Welcome to Peoria Magazine’s annual Innovation issue, in which we again doff our caps to the explorers who approach the frontiers — once our oceans and forests, now outer space and the great technological beyond — and undauntedly say, “Let’s keep going.”
The good news is that this is the second Innovation edition since the launch of Peoria Magazine 2.0, and we did not have any trouble filling it.
We could have done that with the subject of our cover story alone. Jump Trading Simulation & Education Center is celebrating its 10th anniversary this month. OSF Innovation, a division of OSF HealthCare, is housed inside that building. The doctors, scientists, engineers, educators and financiers employed there have been doing some remarkable things over the last decade — seeding new technologies in health care (and potentially beyond), nurturing them to maturity, shepherding these unique products to market.
We focus on a few of those cutting-edge contributions to mankind, from Enduvo in the virtual and augmented reality sphere to Exo Works, which is looking to reinvent the use of ultrasound in the delivery of health care. We also take a look at Device Table, the brainchild of two nurses — Mary Marvin and Jill Teubel — who as frontline workers saw a recurring problem and came up with a pragmatic solution for it.
Peoria is just being true to its history, of course, as this has long been an inventive if also down-to-earth place, from the local role in the creation of the gasoline-powered automobile to the mass production of penicillin. Our great challenge has been keeping the businesses and the jobs created by that R&D. That’s why it’s encouraging to read of the work being done at OSF Ventures and the Jump ARCHES program in providing capital to start-ups.
Indeed, for those who remember the 1970s television series The Six Million Dollar Man — “We can rebuild him … We can make him better than he was” — well, let’s just say the bionic man would cost a lot more than $6 million today. If the financial fuel necessary to get these companies off the ground also enhances the chances of them planting roots here … well, it’s OK to be a little selfish sometimes. Central Illinois’ economy has to be healthy so we can continue to make the world a better place.
Inspiration and innovation come in all varieties, of course. In this issue we take a look at creativity across multiple disciplines — from cosmetics (ColorForge) to culinary endeavors (Noma), from politics (the Perikles voting app) to game publishing (Monopoly’s inventor came from Macomb).
We also confront the promise and peril alike of invention, with Artificial Intelligence technologies being greeted with seemingly equal amounts of enthusiasm and trepidation. AI is increasingly adept at no end of tasks. Chatbots are capable of writing college-level essays. As Seth Katz, a Bradley University English professor, notes herein, “A hammer can chisel a great piece of art or it can destroy.”
AI certainly has implications for privacy and control of our own lives, and it’s important that as a society we step back, on occasion, to consider how we move forward prudently, ethically.
Meanwhile, we introduce a new feature in this month’s magazine, called Launching Pad. The classroom is where so many of us find our first and most lasting inspirations. Our schools and scholars, their teachers and mentors, deserve a place to call their own.
On balance, we should be pleased that Peoria is spoiled with an abundance of boundary breakers who see no such thing as a “final” frontier. Enjoy.