October 21, 2010


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Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the Detroit Economics Club's Transformation Detroit media event at the behest of the good people at the Detroit Regional News Hub (if you are interested in Detroit-centric news, give these folks a look. A real group of class A folks).

The purpose of Transformation Detroit was to provide local, national, and international media an unvarnished look at Detroit's state of affairs - especially as it relates to people making innovative cultural and business strives here in the city. After the media event at The Detroit Economic Club, I had the pleasure to go on a media tour host by the Regional News Hub.

One of the many progressively-minded business and community leaders we met on the tour, was Paul Savage, CEO of Nextek Power Systems. Paul is pictured here surrounded by Nextek's Power Server Modules.

Paul believe this technology will revolutionize how electricity is used by providing homes and businesses a centralized source of DC (Direct Current) power. Currently, the best way to carry electricity over distance from the power plant to your house is by using AC or Alternating Current.

The thing is, most modern appliances have semi-conductors that run on DC. That means each of those individual appliances have to convert the power grid's AC to DC and in the process, much of the energy that could be used to run the appliance is used in the conversion process rendering the entire process inefficient.

Nextek's technology provides a centralized hub for the DC conversion. By centralizing the conversion, significantly less power is lost compared to having the conversion done by each individual appliance.

That, at least, is my layman's understanding of how the technology works. Check out Nextek's slickly produced, easy-to-understand video for further explanation.

Here's why I like Paul: After he presented to the group, I told him about the photo project and gave him a card. The next day, I got an email from Paul saying that he had checked the site out. Now, I give out a lot of cards. People make a lot of enthusiastic promises to get in touch but no one ever does.

And I don't blame them. I do the same thing. Take a card, do a lot of vigorous nodding and proclamations about how me and the card giver need to "get together." But we never do. I understand. People get a lot of cards from a lot of people and we all have finite time to do a lot of things. That's why I was pleasant surprised when I heard back from Paul, because, I mean, I'm busy but this dude is trying to change the world, man.  And he's doing it in Detroit of all places (Paul is originally from Schwenksville, PA).

But why Detroit?

Paul lists three reasons why Detroit was the right place to ground (get it, ground like so you don't get shocked? Get it? Yea? Funny? No?) his business.

"1) We had a design resource in [neighboring] Dearborn," Paul explained via email,  "2) My wife grew up here in Grosse Pointe where her parents still live; mine are passed away. 3) I liked the city instantly when I first visited in the '80s as a mutual fund salesman. I stayed at a Holiday Inn on Jefferson [Avenue in downtown Detroit] which had an unbelievable Motown-style bar band that was outta sight. Danced all night."

And he still is dancing. He's dancing the electric boogie with the future, baby.

Camera nerd stuff:

[Strobist Info: Key Light - Canon 580EX II @ 1/16 power at camera left into reflective umbrella | Rim Light - Vivitar 285HV @1/2 power with blue gels positioned just below shelves on either side of subject. Triggered via Pocket Wizards]

The photo is a composite of two RAW images. Both opened in Adobe Camera Raw; one exposed with a -1 stop exposure compensation for the skylight and one with a + 0.15 exposure compensation for the rest of the scene. I layers them on top of each other, and then used a layer mask to hide the underexposed photo everywhere but in the top portion of the scene. Did I mention I love Photoshop CS5?

Making this photo was challenging and alotta fun. Paul had to take a call the morning I visited Nextek, so I only had about 30 minutes to scout a location, set up lighting, and take the photo. I knew I wanted something that conveyed electricity and technology and I also wanted to put Paul in the context with the product he produces. Ultimately the shelves lit by the blue gelled light seemed like best way to convey those ideas. Really had a good time on this one. 

[View the ongoing project and meet more of: The People of Detroit ]


tanya Simpson said...

Cool one, Noah. Interesting thought about how we all do the 'grip and grin', but rarely follow-through. So many missed opportunities...

toylise said...

The innovation of Detroit was given a voice and platform to be heard. Magnificent!