Cool Products, the People Who Develop Them, and How They Do It. Host Jon Hirschtick chats with innovators in product development and explores what it takes to turn ideas into reality.
A Deep Dive into Sustainable Fish Farms – Tony White, Director of Innovation at Forever Oceans
Forever Oceans is a sustainable fish farming company using innovative technology to generate less waste and impact on the environment while producing tasty and healthier fish in a shorter amount of time. Their approach to restorative aquaculture is revolutionizing the industry, and includes habitats that plunge deeper into the ocean to protect fish during hurricanes.
In this episode, Jon chats with Tony White, Director of Innovation at Forever Oceans, who shares how machine learning and AI are transforming the future of food. He also reveals why his company’s fish farms have 1/14th the carbon footprint of raising cattle.
Robotic Sign Language Interpreters – Samantha Johnson, Founder and CEO of Tatum Robotics
In the DeafBlind community (people who cannot hear or see), only 10 percent are able to communicate through traditional braille, which first requires knowledge of a primary spoken language like English. Most DeafBlind people depend on tactile sign language – holding onto the hand of their communication partner – to talk with others, leaving them totally isolated when interpreters are unavailable. Boston startup Tatum Robotics is developing a humanoid robotic hand (the “Tatum T1”) that is able to translate speech or text into tactile sign language.
In this episode, Jon chats with Tatum Robotics founder Samantha Johnson, who explains her company’s mission to provide tabletop robotic hand interpreters for DeafBlind people, delivering the first technology supporting their communication independence. Samantha shares both the hardware and software challenges of creating a tactile signing robot – and reveals she’s been “getting more hugs than she’s ever received” for helping improve people’s quality of life.
Uber for Potatoes – Automotive Engineers Natalie Dowsett & Kristiana Hamilton, of OX Delivers
Rwanda’s mountainous dirt roads are notoriously dangerous terrain for the country’s farmers, who struggle to get their crops to market before it spoils. UK-based OX Delivers has introduced a fleet of pay-as-you-go rugged trucks that is helping farmers transport their goods quickly, safely and affordably – making local communities more economically sustainable.
In this episode, Jon chats to automotive engineers Natalie Dowsett and Kristiana Hamilton about their company’s new electric OX delivery trucks and their unorthodox design for easy repair and maintenance in rural Africa. Natalie and Kristiana also share their inspiration for choosing engineering careers, and their hopes for spreading OX Delivers’ positive impact to other countries.
Treating Product Design Like a Sport – Too Tall Toby, Speed Modeling Enthusiast
Does using product development software give you an adrenaline rush? If so, you may want to start competing in Too Tall Toby’s monthly speedmodeling challenges on YouTube. Welcoming users of any CAD system, Toby Schnaars challenges competitors to create the same 3D models as fast as they can without sacrificing accuracy – as he comments on their techniques for a live audience. The winners face off at his annual “World Championship of 3D CAD.”
In this episode, Jon explores how the skills developed and lessons learned from speed modeling are applicable to the everyday professional world. Toby, meanwhile, explains why he sees CAD competitions as more like “wizards’ battles” than sports, and he also muses how much luck is a factor in who becomes champion.
Can Seaweed Reverse Climate Change? – Laurel Tincher and Arin Crumley, Co-Founders of Pull to Refresh
Seaweed is not only a trendy health food for humans and abundant nourishment for marine life, it’s also a potential tool for reversing climate change. Backed by an XPRIZE Carbon Removal grant, Pull to Refresh is a startup aiming to balance global atmospheric CO2 levels by sinking carbon-rich invasive seaweed to the floor of the deep Atlantic Ocean.
In this episode, Jon interviews company co-founders Laurel Tincher and Arin Crumley about their ambitious plans and the science behind using algae to neutralize carbon emissions. He also explores how Laurel and Arin built a prototype unmanned vessel for seaweed collection despite each having no engineering background.
Craig Derian: Building a House Like a Car | Master's of Engineering Podcast
Conventional home construction is typically slow, unpredictable, and expensive. But what if the best practices from auto manufacturing were applied to house building to make the process more efficient? Craig Derian, VP of Engineering at Cover, joins the podcast to explain his company’s mission to radically change the way prefabricated custom homes are built – making them more affordable, while significantly eliminating traditional construction waste.
In this episode, Jon explores Craig’s previous career as an engineering manager at Tesla and a senior race engineer for NASCAR teams, asking which design lessons learned in the automotive world can improve tomorrow’s homes. Craig also shares why Socrates’ idea of “Caring for the Soul” strongly influences his career path.
Inspiring and informative
Great job with the Tatum Robotics interview! I love how you find out about the backstory and motivations of your inspiring guests. Your podcast is valuable to help your listeners imagine how life and product development can be through these exemplars. Hearing about a small company being successful with 1 week agile sprints within a hardware team is so inspiring! The constraints she was under with market/funding/technology are very illuminating and that comes through in the other episodes as well. Your interviewing craft is spot on with the Tatum Robotics episode. Please keep making these. 😊
Access to Intelligence and Experience
Amazing that we have this kind of access and insight from someone with vast experiences.
The ability to take concepts, stories and see how they can be applied in other, non-intuitive areas is exciting.
Keep up the great work!