Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

I spent the day at Energy Conversion Devices, Inc. (ECD)As always, the tour was amazing. I hadn't been to ECD for maybe 4 years or so... Since I left the board. A lot of things we were talking about, as usual, were now being built. Since I left, ECD has started a joint venture with Texaco (now Chevron) to commercialize the hydrogen storage systems, ECD has started working with GE to make the first roll to roll low-cost RW optical disks that don't require the high-cost low-speed injection molding process, ECD has moved forward in the joint venture with Intel to make a low cost alternative to Flash called the Ovonic Universal Memory (OUM), continues to build photovoltaic plants that produce better amorphous solar cells faster and in more volume and continues to develop the NiMH batteries which now have the same energy densities as Lithium Ion without the risks...

What do all of these things have in common? When Stan Ovshinsky founded the company in 1960, he set out to solve the world's problems by creating technologies that solved the energy problems with renewable energy. End the dependence on fossil fuels and take carbon out of the energy process. People are finally talking about the "hydrogen economy" today. I saw a photo of Stan in 1960 with a picture on the board of photons from the Sun splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen and the hydrogen being the storage method to transport the energy. The energy was converted later into electrons. Photons->Hydrogen->Electrons... The basic elements of the universe. In the photo, he has a canister of hydrogen and is demonstrating how this will work!

Finally people are talking about the relationship of information and energy. Stan was talking about this in 1960 and in 1981, he minted these commemorative coins with information on one side and energy on the other.

By pioneering the field of amorphous and disordered materials and thin films, Stan was able to pioneer the field of NiMH batteries, the first TFT displays, fuel cells, the first EEPROM (Intel was the foundry for the project back in 1970 when he build the first devices), amorphous photovoltaics, optical disks, and many more technologies in both energy and information using the basic principles of creating new materials to convert and energy, information just being a form of energy...

Anyway, I saw some stuff I can't talk about that shows me that ECD continues to push the envelope. As it enters it's fifth decade and with Stan turning 80 this year ECD continues to gain more momentum.

When I visit ECD I always feel like I've been abducted by aliens who show me the future... The thing is, Stan had already envisioned this in the 1960...

1 Comment

One of my favorite quotes recently:

The future is already here. It's just not evenly distributed.

William Gibson

[ Actually, I don't know what the actual quote is and it's pretty interesting to see how many variations of it are floating around the Net... ]