Revolutionary ideas seem to be what Boston is good at generating. Some of the best were presented yesterday during the filming of IDEAS Boston 2009. In lieu of their traditional in-person conference, this year’s was filmed in front of a small audience in the Venture Development Center and will be presented exclusively online.

Some of my favorite speakers:

Lisa Genova, neuroscientist turned author told the story of how she published her best-selling novel, Still Alice, which portrays the enduring humanity of Alzheimer’s patients. Inspired by her quest to understand her grandmother’s disease, the book is a testament to Genova’s perseverance in steering around mainstream publishers to self-publish her work.

Helen Greiner, pictured above, robotics innovator, was tucked away in one of our offices polishing her presentation before her turn speaking. At ten years old, after seeing Star Wars, she vowed to create her own robot, a real one based on state-of-the-art technology. Helen told the story of how she took the first company she co-founded, iRobot Corporation, to several hundred million valuation. Helen was mum on her new start-up, The Droid Works, Inc., working in the flying robots space.

Deb Roy, cognitive science pioneer, previewed research underway at his MIT Media Labs Cognitive Machines group. They observe and computationally model the longitudinal language development of a single child at an unprecedented scale. To achieve this, Roy embedded technology in the ceiling of his house, and then recorded several hundred thousand hours of video and speech of his own child.

As these three speakers demonstrated, revolutionary ideas are marked by perseverance and skill in execution, not just novelty.

The 2009 presentations will be posted in October on IDEAS Boston’s web site. All of the speakers were inspiring. You are in for a real treat! – WJB