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Five years ago, Marc Andreessen famously wrote that “software is eating the world” in an op-ed piece for the Wall Street Journal. It’s hard to argue with the observation as we’ve continued to see the proliferation of big software-driven disruptions in diverse industries ranging from transportation (e.g. Lyft, Uber, etc.) to media (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, etc.) to insurance (e.g. Epic Systems, Zenefits, etc.).

Autonomous driving is no exception. The two largest companies in the world today by market cap, Apple and Alphabet (Google), are both primarily software companies and both of them are working on ushering in a new era of self-driving mobility. Combined with Tesla, Uber, and many of the automotive OEMs, a whole lot of people are working hard to optimize the algorithms and control software to improve safety, widen the acceptable operating conditions, and make better/faster actionable observations from the plethora of data from autonomous vehicle’s suite of sensors. However, all of this relies on the information gathered from the sensors themselves. Therefore, there’s a fundamental limitation to what software innovation can do alone. Improvements to the hardware are crucial to the advancement of self-driving cars and advanced materials play a fundamental role in hardware innovation. It’s all built up from advanced materials (and, lest we forget, by advanced materials as Purnesh’s previous blog touches on).

Materials for the Masses, part 1

Posted by on in Advanced Materials

Recently, Pangaea has been working on a number of opportunities that might not only make our world better (in terms of sustainability), but also look like they can make our lives better (in terms of quality of life). And when I say "our lives", I mean everybody's lives. In this two-part blog, I want to provide a brief overview of some of the opportunities we are following that we think can help raise the standard of living for some of the poorest people on the planet.

With Google's $3.2 billion acquisition of Nest, and Apple's recent acquisition of Israeli 3D sensor company PrimeSense, sensors are making quite the splash these days. Increasingly, sensors are being deployed all around us measuring, interpreting, and transmitting troves of actionable data. Whether it's for a smarter building where an occupancy sensor detects if anyone is in a room, a manufacturing environment where sensors ensure tight process control, or in a car where rotation sensors detect a slipping wheel, sensors impact most major industries today.

Earlier this year I wrote about medical imaging and how advanced materials are improving CT and nuclear imaging. That is, semiconductor sensors using CZT materials are lowering x-ray and photon dosages while at the same time improving image quality. This blog expands on the health theme by providing three more examples of how advanced materials will impact human health. Biosensors can help people monitor their health and seek treatment when necessary. Nano-particles can carry and target drug treatment inside a patient’s body, and antimicrobial coatings can substantially reduce the rate of infection.