Comroe had done his homework and cited the work of 19th century British physicist John Tyndall who in 1869 explained the blue colour of the sky using a glass tube into which he introduced vapours. But through these tests, Tyndall made other inadvertent discoveries including: the ability of a light beam to follow a curved route, which subsequently led to the flexible gastroscope; a demonstration of how lung airways remove inspired air before reaching the alveoli; and, 50 years before Fleming, establishing how penicilium bacteria can destroy mould. Tyndall therefore showed that curiosity-driven “blue skies research” could produce something practically useful.
Yesterday, 30 April 2015, marked the grand opening in San Jose of the Blue Sky Center an initiative of Jabil a global manufacturer that provides design, engineering and supply chain solutions for its customers. “The Blue Sky Center is a hands-on showcase of our broad range of world-class capabilities,” said Jabil’s CEO, Mark Mondello. “We’re working with customers who have innovative new product ideas and [this] is where we will turn their dreams and ideas into reality.”
It is no accident that Jabil chose to locate its Blue Sky Center in the heart of Silicon Valley, a place where imagination and engineering are pushed to the limits. Although Jabil is not [yet] a household name, it has 90 factories in 23 countries, employs almost 200,000 staff, and manufactures products for many of the world’s best-known brands. Working across a range of industries – from aerospace to automotive to healthcare – the company has made innovative contributions in three related areas: biosensors; wearables; and the internet of things (IoT).
As an example, Jabil has partnered with a start-up called Athos to develop a device that receives biosignals – such as heart rate and muscle activity – via smart textiles, interprets the signals and then sends this information via a mobile device to the internet for further analysis. Now that’s blue sky innovation of which Julius Comroe would approve!