Elon University recently unveiled a series of future scenarios they've compiled from asking industry leaders, analysts and activists a series of questions about major tech advances they expect by 2020. You can find good snippets from the report here at Pew Internet.
One thing the report goes over is the increasing use of mobile internet as the method of connecting to the World Wide Web. "The mobile device will be the primary connection tool to the internet for most people in the world in 2020." The go on to cite various examples such as the increasing computing power of mobile phones, how applications are increasingly easy to use and operate, and of course the cost of phones drop everyday (anyone heard the rumor that Wal-Mart would be selling the iPhone for $99?)
On one hand I feel bad for those '$100 Laptop' people who tried so hard to make a cheap laptop and have pretty much failed, but on the other hand we have amazing products that do even more for the same price, and they're small. While the idea of a third world student dutifully doing their homework on a cellphone may seem strange, by 2020 we'll be seeing developments of amazing heads-up displays as well as the nearly complete removal of the touchscreen as a device. Infrared beams can replace a touchscreen and rolllable OLED screens will allow for larger displays in much smaller gadgets.
Check out the links above for the full scoop.
December 08 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Gadgets Year: 2009 Rating: 2
HP and the Flexible Display Center at Arizona State University announced their first prototype of a flexible screen that is both easy to produce and affordable. Made almost entirely out of plastic, the displays hope to revolutionize the size of our electronics such as laptops, phones and televisions. The amazing thing about it is their prototype consumes 90% less material than traditional displays of the same screen size.
It's been difficult for flexible screens to break into the mass market due to their cost and complicated design, but with recent breakthroughs like this we can expect flexible displays start to show up in our everyday lives by next year. I mean, if they can build a plant that can crank out thousands of feet of thin film solar fairly quickly, it would make sense they could use the same type of production to mass-produce flexible displays.
December 15 2008 / by memebox
Category: Other Year: General Rating: 1
The Future Scanner Weekly Top 10 highlights some of the best scans submitted to the Future Scanner during the previous 7 days.
Scanned by John Heylin
Scanned by John Heylin
Scanned by Adam Cutsinger
Scanned by Garry Golden
Scanned by John Heylin
A new Ceres report on company supply chain and operation efficiencies that support climate change strategies, has named IBM the #1 company for its internal practices and green innovation strategies. The RiskMetrics Group authored report analyzes climate change governance practices at 63 of the world's largest retail, pharmaceutical, technology, apparel and other consumer-facing companies.
Using a 100-point scale, the three highest scoring companies were IBM, UK-based grocery retailer Tesco and Dell, with 79, 78 and 77 points, respectively. More than half of the 63 companies scored under 50 points, with a median score of 38 points.
Beyond 'green' recognition, what does IBM see in a a Smart Planet?
The big story is not the 'green' award recognition for IBM, Tesco and Dell - it's the brand association IBM is trying to build between its core practice as a hardware-software service provider and the transformation of global industries that deal with infrastructure and the transmission of information, goods, energy and water.
Consumers can change light builts, but companies like IBM and Johnson Controls can transform industry level supply chains, built environments, and national infrastructure systems. This is where we are likely to find the greatest ROI.
IBM (and others) sees an opportunity to improve industrial scale efficiencies in a near term future shaped by software, sensors and micro controllers. The vision? A Smart Planet.
For IBM the world is quickly becoming, instrumented, interconnected and intelligent. This is the driving force behind 'Big Blue' trying to enable a 'Big Green'world. Sensors and Software can lead to a greener world.
December 11 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Gadgets Year: Beyond Rating: 11 Hot
Researchers at the ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories have succeeded in partially translating brain activity in humans into images. "While the team for now has managed to reproduce only simple images from the brain, they said the technology could eventually be used to figure out dreams and other secrets inside people's minds." They honed the computer to each tested individual by showing them over 400 different images and recording how their brain reacted. While successful tests have been run so far, the images used in the tests have been fairly simple ones such as the word "neuron."
Anyone who saw the movie Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within has to remember how the main character was able to record her dreams for later viewing. And, true to fashion, the images were somewhat cluttered and fuzzy, an excellent representation of where the technology might be in 20 years (due to the erratic nature of dreams and the speed at which they occur, we may never be able to record a dream like we see it sleeping). And while it may lead to reading minds entirely, the "secrets" the team refers to, this technology is universally wanted by gadget-hounds everywhere. Controlling things with the mind will always be the end goal for all of these BCIs.
The quick rise of the prosumer is exerting great force on the social networks and platforms that depend on these users. As prosumers are empowered and generate more value their options broaden, allowing them to control more of their web and market environment through their participation.
The output power of individuals is increasing rapidly largely due to evolving web, information and other technologies. At the same time it's getting much easier to capture and generate digital content that can then return value through the web.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg observes that of late people are sharing roughly 2x more digital data about themselves every year. With better, cheaper video, audio, graphics, machinima, and search capabilities arriving regularly, this new content is steadily growing richer.
As the web market evolves, more value is returned to users through better ad pairing/serving, payment through links, personally relevant structure (i.e. social networks) and access to other data. Ultimately, prosumers (consumers that create content) gravitate toward services that give them the most and best rewards for their time and attention spent.
December 12 2008 / by memebox
Category: Other Year: General Rating: 1
The Future Scanner Daily Top 5 highlights several of the most though-provoking scans submitted to the Future Scanner over the previous 24 hours.
Scanned by Adam Cutsinger
Scanned by mycophage
Scanned by John Heylin
Scanned by amisampat
Scanned by Marc Cobb
December 10 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Gadgets Year: 2009 Rating: 4 Hot
You've got a laptop, a cellphone, a digital camera and at least one other gadget in your arsenal. Sadly, only your phone gets internet which costs about $60 a month. You thought about getting mobile internet for your laptop but that was another $60 plus the cost of the USB drive. You're tired of hopping from coffee shop to coffee shop looking for internet on trips. What do you do?
Novatel, a company specializing in mobile information technology, will soon release MiFi, a mobile WiFi system run through cellular phone lines. MiFi acts as your own personal WiFi system which you can link to from any of your mobile gadgets. On a road trip you can carry it along for any of your passengers to latch onto. With a 4 hour life-span or 40 hours on standby, business trips might be just that more bearable.
In a previous post I examined Six Industry Perspectives of the Future of Blogging. To build on these, here's a list of less frequently discussed environmental trends and potential disruptors that may also play a big role in the evolution of the field:
1. The LAW of ACCELERATING RETURNS: Yes, the costs of various blog-related technologies are dropping quickly, but you may be surprised by how fast this is occurring across pretty much all fields. Ray Kurweil's Law of Accelerating Returns is a nice umbrella paradigm for the lightning fast pace of innovations in areas such as computing (doubling every 18 months - Moore's Law), interface (high-end screens approach human visual reality by 2015 - Smith's Law), image capture (affordable Flip cams now come in HD), search (Google's database steadily returning better results for longer queries), speech-to-text translation (Dragon's high-end software already is 95% accurate. Among other things, Google's database of audio search queries will help accelerate this.) , etc. Though Kurzweil's Law may flatten out at some point, there are enough amazing developments on the immediate horizon to plan for a crazy decade that thoroughly transforms blogging.
2. EXPONENTIAL DATA: Parallel to technology, the total amount of data on the planet is growing at an exponential rate. Much of this can be attributed to the growing number of sensors and input devices (linked by the expanding web) that permit people to post more information online. If this trend is to continue, it's highly likely that it will be supported by a massive increase in blogging by humans.
3. QUANTIFICATION: As data proliferates, humans are incented to sort it all into meaningful knowledge. Much of this is accomplished by piecing together systems representations of different environments, locations, historical events, technologies, and human behavior. As it becomes more widely recognized that such quantification is economically rewarded, it's likely that much blog output will be structured to fit into such models (it already is - ie Wikipedia).
By Ami Sampat
Continental Airlines and Boeing are preparing for the first flight of a plane run partially on next generation biofuels, which will leave on January 7 from Houston, Texas. Continental and Boeing's joint venture will be the first American plane to use jatropha as a biofuel. This biofuels milestone follows Virgin Atlantic's earlier test run, using coconut oil and babassu oil.
Why is this important?
Biofuels would not only help reduce the airline industry's carbon emissions but it could also be a more stable source of fuel.
The January 7th flight is going to be fueled by a 50/50 blend of traditional jet fuel and biofuels derived from algae and jatropha fuel. Jatropha is a shrub (non-food crop) grown on marginal lands. Its oil-rich seeds can be used to make biofuels. The first commercial scale Jatropha operations are now being tested in India, China, Indonesia, Malaysia and West Africa.
Provided the test run goes well next month, this could open doors for the airline business and biofuel producers looking to capture a part of the aviation biofuel market.
December 09 2008 / by Garry Golden
Category: Energy Year: 2020 Rating: 3 Hot
While solar power is often described as the world's great untapped clean source of energy, ocean power deserves as much attention. In fact, it deserves a lot of attention given the expectation that the world will double energy consumption in the decades ahead. And the reality that most of the world's population lives close to an ocean.
Futures oriented energy engineers dream of capturing the steady kinetic and thermal of energy. Unlike solar and wind, ocean energy provides near 24/7 potential utilization.
A Low Mainteance Linear Generator?
Now a Swiss team from Upsalla University has developed and tested a novel system. For nearly three years, a wave power plant has stood on the bottom of the ocean a couple of kilometers off the west coast of Sweden, near Lysekil. Rafael Waters, from the Uppsala University Division of Electricity, designed and built the facility as part of his doctoral project.
The team's 'linear generator' generates electricity with the slow up and down movements of the waves. An ordinary generator transforms rotation energy to electricity, and it needs to turn at about 1500 rpm to be efficient. (Images)
“This means that a wave energy station with an ordinary generator needs energy transmission systems such as gearboxes or hydraulic systems and other complicated details that wear out and require much more maintenance than a linear generator,” says Rafael Waters. “Our generator has functioned without any trouble every time we started it up over the years, even though it has received no maintenance and has sometimes stood still for months.”
Future plans for the wave power array
A blog (a contraction of the term "Web log") is a website, usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order. - Wikipedia
To me, this definition is synonymous with the regular output of thoughts by a human brain to the web, organized by date, which means that blogging is really just a faster way to share ideas. As such, it marks a critical developmental step in our collective ability to process knowledge. And it is far from static.
As blogging spreads, the blog industry is also transforming due to evolving technology and market forces. These include a steady influx of ad dollars, more intelligent software and search, and faster computers, to name a few.
When contemplating the future of blogging, it's important to consider 1) informed industry perspectives on the topic, 2) environmental trends, and of course 3) the fundamental socio-economic role of blogging.
To start, here are some of the widely acknowledged visions of what's next for blogging:
BIGGER AD PIE, LOWER AVERAGE RATES: Morgan Stanley Web guru Mary Meeker has assembled data indicating that both ad impressions and the total value of the web ad market are experiencing strong growth, which is unsurprising as the world grows more intermeshed and more people start blogging. At the same time, she expects the average price of such ads to drop as inventory (# of websites and blogs) grows. These trends reflect the fact that more bloggers are making money through generic ad serving apps such as Adsense, ValueClick, AdBrite and Project Wonderful, but that the serious cash is being made by content publishers who reach niche population segments with smarter, focused content that can be paired with highly targeted ads. This seems quite reasonable and natural as content proliferates and redundancy increases.
CONSOLIDATION of the FITTEST: Michael Arrington, currently the #1 blogger on Earth, is working hard to build out his Tech Crunch blog network according to the assumption that, "The only way to compete with CNet [king of the top-down blog networks] in the long run is to group [proven] writers together. They should be better writers than CNet has because they are all competitive entrepreneurs with a lot of equity at stake.” (Bits Blog) Viewing things from the inside-out, Arrington backs the notion that a specific type of worker (the natural born output super-hero) with a specific voice will dominate the near-term future of blogging as they band together through formal corporations.