Monthly Archives: January 2010

National Geographic feature on Bionics

from National Geographic:

Etymology: from bi (as in “life”) + onics (as in “electronics”);
the study of mechanical systems that function like living organisms
or parts of living organisms

KedgeForward’s 3-part series on Holoptic Foresight Dynamics

Interesting series from KedgeForward:

” The creation of emerging properties that are greater than the sum of the parts involved. Perception by the parts (people, nodes, actors, etc.) of the emerging whole as a “unique entity.”

An awareness by the parts within the system of their individual diversity and their role in creating the emerging whole/larger purpose. Intentional evolution practiced by the parts and the whole.”

Wallpaper doubles as flexible television


Japanese scientists are developing a wallpaper that can be turned into a television screen, with the help of nanotechnology.

The living room of the future could be coated in the revolutionary wallpaper, thanks to the efforts of researchers at Toshiba. As well as being able to turn entire walls into a screen, the flexible paper can be adjusted to show images that fit the home owner’s mood.

The breakthrough in wall coverings is the result of improvements in organic electroluminescence (OLED) screen technology that enables the paper to emit light.

“OLED is anticipated to become an important light-emitting device for the next generation,” Toshiba said.

Also see: Digital OLED Wallpaper – The ultimate office (above images)

Touchable holography (video)

from BoingBoing:

Professor Hiroyuki Shinoda and his colleagues at Tokyo University are making headway in haptic holography, 3D projections you can actually feel.

By using ultrasonic waves, the scientists have developed software that creates pressure when a user’s hand “touches” a hologram that is projected.

The future of finding nothing

from The Institute For the Future:

Systems Biology has begun to gain attention as one of several new life sciences aimed at fundamentally reshaping the ways we understand how humans function at a cellular level.

But a recent project from the field–called the Negatome–offers up a simple but clever idea to advance not just their own field, but other research disciplines: A database of negative results aimed at improving the scientific process.

[...] In other words, publishing negative findings does a couple key things: It helps researchers avoid repeating unnecessary tests, and it helps insure the integrity of meta-analyses and ensure that we don’t place too much weight in a stray false finding.

Play your cards right and you, too, can be a futurist

from Good Morning Silicon Valley:

[...] But the point of such predictions is not so much in being right as it is to get an early start on the conversations we need to have to cope with social and technological developments that are approaching at an ever accelerating pace.

And if you want to get in on some of those conversations, one place to start is the game going on now at the Signtific Lab, a platform developed and directed by the Institute for the Future to draw on the expertise, imagination and wisdom in the crowd, if not of it.

In the exercise, the site posits that “in 2019, cubesats — space satellites smaller than a shoebox — have become very cheap and very popular. For $100, anyone can put a customized personal satellite into low-earth orbit. And space data transfer protocols developed by the Interstellar Internet Project provide a basic relay backbone linking low-powered cubesats with ground stations, and with each other. Space is open to anyone and everyone — for research, for business, for communications, for play,” and asks, “What will you do when space is as cheap and accessible as the Web is today?

Models predict more intense hurricanes (x2) in the near future

from Futurism Now:

In a story from the AAAS/Science journal, it’s reported that fewer but fiercer and more-destructive hurricanes will sweep the Atlantic Basin in the 21st century as climate change continues, which is suggested from a new modeling study by U.S. government researchers.   Category 4 and 5 hurricanes may double in number by the end of the 21st century.

Augmented Reality: Pure hype or the Next Big Thing?

from Computerworld:

Augmented reality technology is getting a lot of attention these days — particularly the use of AR with smartphones. The idea is that by using certain software, you can turn your iPhone, Droid or other smartphone into a virtual heads-up display.

Aim your phone’s camera at a shop, restaurant or landmark, and information about the place, such as hours of operation, reviews or directions, appears on the device’s screen as graphics floating over the image of the place.

Dozens of developers of mobile augmented reality apps are banking on AR becoming the Next Big Thing in the mobile market. Indeed, a recent Juniper Research report predicted that annual revenues from mobile AR apps will reach $732 million by 2014, up from less than $1 million in 2009.

Also see: For when the 5 senses aren’t enough (SixthSense)

IEET: 10 emerging technology trends of the next 10 years

from The Institute for Ethics & Emerging Technologies:

  • Geoengineering
  • Smart grids
  • Radical materials
  • Synthetic biology
  • Personal genomics
  • Bio-interfaces
  • Data interfaces
  • Solar power
  • Nootropics
  • Cosmeceuticals

Is Twitter a Complex Adaptive System?

from Future Blogger:

An article by Rosabeth Moss Kanter was just published today on the Harvard Business Review website, titled On Twitter and in the Workplace, It’s Power to the Connectors. In it, she highlights the fact that there is an organizational trend moving away from the hierarchical networks of the 20th century, and towards complex, distributed, non-hierarchical structures of business organization and leadership.

She also points out that success today is based on a person’s ability to leverage power and influence within their social networks, to act as “connectors” between people and information, and in turn build social capital. [ Read On ]

Genetically modified rice & corn to grow in China, then the world

from Singularity Hub:

China grows a lot of rice – about 60 million tonnes a year. It also consumes most of that, only exporting around 1% of its crop. So, high demand for production with little fear of export restrictions? Sounds like a recipe for genetic modification.

According to Reuters, China recently approved the commercial use of genetically modified rice and corn to be phased in probably within the next two to three years

Both strains of GM grains were created locally. Huazhong Agricultural University developed Bt rice, which contains proteins from Bacillius thuringiensis bacteria that allow it to resist the rice stem borer, a major pest in China. [...]

[...] Others point out that GM crops are the intellectual property of the developers, which have almost exclusively been large chemical corporations. Farmers are (generally) not allowed to plant their own left over seeds from GM crops, but instead must purchase seed from the developer.

This is seen as an enforcement of the patent rights of the company, but there is concern over most of the world’s seed supply being under the control of a few business institutions.

I hope we get to see more debate on this issue in the near future.

“Cars of the Future” magazine scans (1960s)

A flickr set from zealtime via intheyear2000:

When data lives on: Websites to manage your cloud data post-death

From The Washington Post:

Pierce’s backup service, San Francisco-based Legacy Locker, is one of a dozen businesses that have sprung up to help denizens of the digital world grapple with the thorny issues raised after your physical being leaves behind only its virtual reality.

Internet experts and estate planners say a cybercrisis is brewing because popular Internet services have policies that, barring an order from a court, forbid accessing or transferring accounts — including recovering money — unless someone has the password.

Spotlight: Project H: Design for Healthy, Happy People and Habitats

From triplepundit

Project H Design is a collective of designers who believe in the power of good design to change the world. Founded last year by architect and designer (and managing editor) Emily Pilloton, the non-profit will kick off it its Design Revolution Road Show in February. During this tour, the crew will haul an Airstream trailer carrying an exhibit that features 40 different products aimed at addressing specific–and often humanitarian–issues, such as the need to easily transport and purify water, or the need for effective, low-cost eyeglasses.

[...] We like to measure this as the triple bottom line, so it’s people, planet and profit.

Embedded in the above link is Emily Pilloton on the Colbert Report (1/18/10)

The premium of forcasting

from TimesOnline:

The world is changing at an unprecedented rate and the value of forecasting is at a premium.

[...] Just as objects from the past spur a conversation about civilisations that have long gone, Marina Gorbis, the institute’s executive director, hopes that these artefacts from imagined tomorrows can “make the future tangible”. It may sound silly, but it all has a serious purpose.

For 40 years, the institute [IFTF] has been assessing trends for governments, businesses and the general public. But never, said Gorbis, has the future come at us so fast. The internet has changed global communication at a speed and scale unseen in history and old forms of business and government are under pressure.

Also see:  Institute for the Future

Augmented Reality in a contact lens

from IEEE Spectrum:

A new generation of contact lenses built with very small circuits and LEDs promises bionic eyesight

The human eye is a perceptual powerhouse. It can see millions of colors, adjust easily to shifting light conditions, and transmit information to the brain at a rate exceeding that of a high-speed Internet connection.

But why stop there?

Thanks to @klintron of Technoccult for the link

Is decentralized urban farming the future of food?


Growing food in dense cities like New York might seem like an oxymoron, but why shouldn’t we grow food right next to our plates to reduce the waste? Today, most Americans live in urban areas. And as the population densities have shifted around the country, we should re-examine backyards. They can be more than places to relax; they can be places to grow vegetables.

For a more centralized concept, see: Can Farming Save Detroit

NASA announces designs for personal flying suit

via @disinfo [link]

For when 5 senses aren’t enough…

Every blog’s got to start somewhere, so I figured: Why not with Pranav Mistry’s highly anticipated SixthSense technology?

For a good rundown on what it’s all about, check out SixthSense Frees Data from the Confines of Paper or Screen.

SixthSense pushes gesture-driven digital responses to the limits. Simply draw the @ sign with your finger in the air if you want to check your emails on the wall. Use the same finger to draw a circle and see the time in the image of analog watch that appears on your wrist. Make a picture frame with your hands to take a digital photograph. With a look at your airplane ticket, SixthSense can tell you whether or not your flight is on time, as well as the reason of delay.

Other related items include: