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  • Mar 31, 2018

    Orbi, Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE, and Intel Studies Whales | #178


    From your fortified bunker of a home to the open ocean, technology is enhancing our lives in more ways than we can count. NETGEAR Product Management Leader for Orbi Connected Home, Amit Rele, describes how their Orbi mesh Wi-Fi network can deliver internet to the farthest reaches of your house. With tri-band communication, a sleek, accessible app, and great coverage with just two units, Orbi consistently garners praise from reviewers across the net. Then, we dive deep with XPRIZE Prize Lead and Senior Director of Planet and Environment, Jyotika Virmani, Ph.D., who fills us in on the nine finalists for the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE. Mapping the seafloor is no easy feat. Then, Intel Labs Senior Principal Engineer, Dr. Ted Wilke, shares how they’re partnering with Parley for the Oceans and SnotBot to use AI and machine learning to collect samples from whales and their exhalant. With a mission to identify and study whale morphometry, Dr. Ted Wilke and Intel are lending their knowledge to Parley for the Ocean’s effort to determine the health of the ocean by discerning the wellbeing of top predators, whales. Tune in now.


    · [00:00:00] Old Houses vs Wi-Fi Connectivity

    · [00:05:20] Orbi Mesh Wi-Fi Saves Mike’s Bacon

    · [00:12:30] Deliver Us from Wi-Fi Dead Zones, Orbi

    · [00:19:09] Get Around Thick Walls with Orbi

    · [00:28:19] Coverage and Parental Controls

    · [00:35:11] Orbi: Top Reviewed Home Mesh Network

    · [00:41:31] Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE

    · [00:45:53] 9 Teams Vie for Ocean Discovery XPRIZE

    · [00:54:02] Mapping the Ocean for Future Prosperity

    · [01:01:25] Intel and SnotBot Study Whales with AI

    · [01:07:59] Identification and Morphometry

    · [01:17:26] What Tale Can a Whale’s Tail Tell?


    Discover more about guests and segments below…


    [00:00:00] Old Houses vs. Wi-Fi Connectivity

    Covering your house in a nice blanket of Wi-Fi can be a pain. Jason and Mike detail their challenges with old houses, concrete walls, and spotty connectivity. The best fix until recently was to use Wi-Fi extenders which wasn’t a perfect solution. Could Wi-Fi mesh networks be the solution we’ve been searching for?


    [00:05:20] Orbi Mesh Wi-Fi Saves Mike’s Bacon

    The Wi-Fi connection throughout your house is spotty at best, but that’s all you’ve ever known… Don’t settle for mediocrity! Mike recently installed an Orbi mesh Wi-Fi system in his house and eliminated buffering wheels and slow load times like a pest control exterminator. Jason also has a mesh Wi-Fi system in his house, though his is the Velop system. We compare these two Wi-Fi range extenders; find out why the Orbi comes out on top.


    [00:12:30] Orbi Deliver Us from Wi-Fi Dead Zones

    Long ago, in the bleak, dystopian past of 2015, people had to live with the horrors of insufficient Wi-Fi coverage in their homes. Until one day, a savior emerged to deliver us from the disparaged, signal-less slums: the Wi-Fi mesh network. NETGEAR Product Management Leader for Orbi Connected Home, Amit Rele, details the genesis of Wi-Fi mesh networks, their ease of use, and the coverage they provide for our homes. The new NETGEAR Orbi provides the same Wi-Fi coverage with two nodes that other mesh systems accomplish with three. Plus, a sleek app lends an Apple-like feel of simplicity to your network that you won’t get with your standard router. Keep your house out of the dark ages with Orbi.


    [00:19:09] Get Around Thick Walls with Orbi

    It may come as some surprise, but back in the 40’s and 50’s Wi-Fi friendly construction materials were not a huge priority; that’s how Jason and Mike ended up with anti-Wi-Fi, concrete bunker homes. Thankfully, the Orbi mesh system features ethernet backhaul, a channel dedicated to communication between the Orbi units. NETGEAR’s Amit Rele explains how this allows for optimal connection between devices, helping to avoid troublesome metallic and concrete obstacles. Break down those walls with NETGEAR’s Orbi.


    [00:28:19] Coverage and Parental Controls

    Mike Etchart’s 2,000 square foot house poses no problem for Orbi’s base and one satellite unit; places that were once dead spots are alive and well. NETGEAR’s Amit Rele shares his personal experience with the Orbi RBK50 system. Separated by six floors of concrete and steel, Amit was able to acquire a strong signal on the ground floor. Also, Amit tells us Circle with Disney parental control firmware will be integrated with Orbi units. Tune in to learn about features like customizable usage times, age limit restrictions, individual profiles for family members, and more.


    [00:35:11] Orbi: Top Reviewed Home Mesh Network

    NETGEAR’s Orbi is consistently earning top rankings from reviewers in the Wi-Fi mesh system category; so what makes the Orbi so special? NETGEAR has been a key player in the networking space for 20 years. Amit Rele describes how Orbi’s tri-band communication with dedicated ethernet backhaul allows you to scale up your mesh network depending on the size of your house with little to no speed loss or interference. On top of that, Orbi offers a sleek and sexy. Find out more about Orbi’s accolades and technical achievements here.


    [00:41:31] XPRIZE Solves Our Planet’s Problems

    As humanity grows technologically, so do the issues facing our planet. XPRIZE aims to solve these problems by putting our scientific minds to use. Prize Lead and Senior Director of Planet and Environment, Jyotika Virmani, Ph.D., gives us an overview of the exciting competitions currently in the mix. Last week they launched the Avatar XPRIZE, which challenges teams of inventors across the world to create an advanced robot capable of being controlled via haptic suit from 100km away. Another contest underway, the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE, has secured nine finalist teams last week. Listen in to learn more about this ocean based endeavor.


    [00:45:53] 9 Teams Vie for Ocean Discovery XPRIZE

    Did you know that we have a better map of the surface of Mars than we do of our planet? Earth’s deep sea is not easily accessible by humanity; and current technology would take nearly 600 years to map the other 71% of our planet. XPRIZE’s Jyotika Virmani, Ph.D., believes their challenge can bring forth technical innovations that could provide a high resolution map of the entire ocean floor by 2030. If that sounds ambitious, it is! Nine finalist teams from across the globe are already hard at work bringing their best ideas to the table. Sticking with sonar, a team from Duke University is implementing aerial drones to deploy their deep sea probes, and a Japanese team has set loose a swarm of robots. Breaking the mold, Switzerland is making use of lasers. Will these inventors hold the keys to Davy Jones’ locker?


    [00:54:02] Mapping the Ocean for Future Prosperity

    Mapping the ocean isn’t just a flight of fancy; an estimated three million shipwrecks, marine pharmacology exploits, and potential virtual ecotourism opportunities await us at the sea floor. XPRIZE Prize Lead and Senior Director of Planet and Environment, Jyotika Virmani, Ph.D., explains that by removing the cost of hiring a ship from the equation, they catalyze the market and open the doors for future generations. While most teams are university based, it is not a requirement to enter your ideas in an XPRIZE competition. One man from Switzerland has made it to the finals of the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE, and you can do the same for future projects. Visit to learn more.


    [01:01:25] Intel and SnotBot Study Whales with AI

    Simply put, Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle states that when you study something, you also change it. Although originally applied to the field of quantum mechanics, the same could be said for wildlife research. Intel Labs Senior Principal Engineer, Dr. Ted Wilke, explains how they’ve partnered with Parley for the Oceans and SnotBot to use AI and machine learning tools to collect biological samples from whales without disturbing them in their natural environment. SnotBot, a well equipped, bird-sized drone, flies through jets of water projected out of whales blowholes, revealing a wealth of information about the animal’s wellbeing. Swimming at the top of the food chain, the welfare of the ocean is directly reflected in whales. Explore how SnotBot is getting the information we need without stressing our ocean friends.


    [01:07:59] Identification and Morphometry

    Okay, so SnotBot’s goal is to acquire biological and ecological information from whale snot, but where does Intel fit in to all of this? Intel Labs Senior Principal Engineer, Dr. Ted Wilke, discusses what they’re studying in whales – identification and morphometry. Identification is easy enough to understand; we identify ourselves with little plastic cards and thumb prints, our pets with chips and tags, but what is a whale’s defining feature? As it turns out, distinct fluke patterns in a whale’s tail can be used to distinguish pod members. Going deeper, Morphometry is the study of the shape of an object. By studying the amount of blubber on a whale, we can determine if it is at a healthy weight and capable of reproducing. All of this information, collected by the SnotBot drone, is interpreted by their Artificial Intelligence before the tiny craft can even return to the boat, vastly cutting down on analysis time. Discover the possibilities of AI learning in the ocean.


    [01:17:26] What Tale Can a Whale’s Tail Tell?

    Identifying whales presents unique challenges; they blend in with their background and are often submerged in murky water, filtering out color. Before intel could put their AI technology to work, Senior Principal Engineer, Dr. Ted Wilke, and his team needed to discover the whale ‘fingerprint’. It turns out that distinct markings and the jagged, key-like trailing edge of a whale’s tail is the answer. Intel’s AI algorithms can compare photos taken by SnotBot to a database of historic photos to make the identification possible. With this information in hand, the crew was able to positively identify Trumpeter, a whale that had not been seen in 21 years. We’ve only breached the surface, get the full tale.


    Explore More with Helpful Links:

    · Guest: Amit Rele | Product Management Leader for Orbi Connected Home, NETGEAR
    · Guest: Jyotika Virmani, Ph.D. | Prize Lead and Senior Director of Planet and Environment, XPRIZE
    · Guest: Dr. Ted Wilke | Senior Principal Engineer, Intel Labs

    · Link: Orbi

    · Link: Ocean Discovery XPRIZE



    This episode was produced by Entertainment Right Now (ERN). If you found value in this episode, and you’d like to hear more, please consider leaving us a review on iTunes and be sure to subscribe to our podcast so you don’t miss a beat. Your feedback helps us to reach more enthusiasts around the world! If you have a question you’d like us to answer, please leave a comment below or e-mail us at


    Program Host: Jason Masters
    Producer: Jason Masters
    Production Assistant: Joanne Bolden
    Audio Engineer: Jason Masters
    Copy Editor: Cody Castleberry
    Guest: Amit Rele
    Guest: Jyotika Virmani, Ph.D.
    Guest: Dr. Ted Wilke

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