Are you a wolverine fan who wants artificially grown claws? Are you on an organ implant wait-list? Do you dream about having perfect 20/20 vision? If your answer to these questions is yes, then you will love what comes next in this post. Yes, the elements of science fiction are nearing reality with the recent exponential advancements in technology. Over the course of history, technological progression has led to remarkable human achievements. The wheel allowed us to cover large distances with ease and led to the formation of silk routes. Likewise, Watt’s steam engine simplified transportation and made it cheaply available to the public. The twentieth century was marked by the advent of computers and later on the internet, which connected the remotest corners of the world and that too in an inexpensively way. Today, we will explore similar avenues which are poised to change the way we do a lot of things. So brace yourselves as we take you through what’s hot in technology right now.
1. Google will help the disabled get 3D-printed prosthetic limbs and more
One can only imagine the plight of the physically disabled when they have to wait months before getting a prosthetic limb implant. In a bid to make their lives simpler and free from shackles, tech giant Google recently promised to donate actively to their cause. It has pledged a $600,000 grant to the Enable Community Foundation to provide free prosthetics to those in need. This grant is part of the Google Impact Challenge where $20 million will be donated through Google.org, the company’s non-profit arm, to increase the independence of disabled people. The Enable Community Foundation is one of the first two recipients of this grant. It actively connects volunteers who use 3D printing as a way to create and customize prosthetic limbs. Besides this initiative, Google has also announced a $500,000 grant for World Wide Hearing.
It is an organization devoted to testing and producing low-cost kits which diagnose hearing loss and provide hearing aids. These kits rely on smartphones, which makes them very affordable for disabled people in developed as well as developing countries. Wait, that’s not all Google has to offer. Its research & development division, Google X, is already researching on technology to improve the lives of the disabled. Lift Labs, which was acquired by Google last year, has developed a spoon that adjusts automatically for people suffering from Parkinson’s disease or other neurodegenerative disorders which cause shakiness in the hands. It employs directed vibrations to counter the user’s random movements and allows them to eat more easily. I believe this is a great step for the tech giant. It reflects on the ideology of giving something back to the society, and what better than to help those who are less equipped! What do you think?
2. Soon to be launched bionic contact lenses will make 20/20 vision look cute!
One of the news which was hot in technology this week was the announcement of new contact lenses by Ocumetics. The company proudly stated that the new bionic lens implant would be at least three times better than normal 20/20 vision! What are we looking at here? What could be better than a person having perfect natural eyesight? Dr. Garth Webb, the Canadian optometrist behind the Ocumetics bionic lens, claims that if a person with normal eyesight can see things clearly up to 10 feet away, then the bionic lens will allow that individual to see the same things clearly from 30 feet away. In a nutshell, it means that the bionic implant will focus on expanding the limits and range of the human eye! However, there will be pre-requisites to the implant as the doctor suggests. Similar to the Lasik eye surgery, the bionic lens implant will only be plausible for patients after their eyes have fully developed. This happens around the age of 25 in most cases. The fascinating part is that, unlike Lasik, this new technology will open up an entirely new realm of possibility in terms of human eyesight. Imagine soldiers, pilots, and marines with enhanced vision. You could see threats from miles away and prep yourself with counter measures.
The potential of this kind of technology is virtually limitless. One would not be wrong in speculating a future where bionic eye implants nullify the need of equipment such as sonar, radars, and bar code readers, which we hold dear today. Lots of time and resources could be saved! You might think that a process with such remarkable results would be painful for the patient. That is not the case according to Dr. Webb, who confirms that the entire process takes only eight minutes. A custom-made lens is placed into the patient’s eye and it starts functioning swiftly within 10 seconds! Currently, the lens is under clinical trials, but given the positive excitement around it, it is very much possible that the lens will be available for mass use soon. Webb estimates that the lens will be available for public release within the next two years. I agree with Dr. Webb that perfect eyesight should be a human right, and with the Ocumetics bionic lens, we might see this statement come true along with a complete reimagining of perfect vision!
3. Iron Man beams and Wolverine claws can be yours without any terrifying surgery!
Yes! It’s true. You can be the clawed super mutant roaming around taverns and calling every rookie bub if you like. You just need to support a kickstarter campaign from MyoWare and it will help you build your own claws! The news has become very hot in technology and is raking in the excitement across many platforms. The campaign revolves around advancing the fourth generation of Brian Kaminski’s wearable muscle sensor platform. Don’t get nervous; I will tell you what it is. It is a device that senses the electromyography or EMG signals your brain sends to your muscles. These signals facilitate all kinds of muscle movements. The device records analog signals every time you flex a muscle. It may not sound much to you at first but the possibilities are limitless! The fourth-generation sensor has been completely redesigned to make it more cost-effective and easily wearable. The technology can be used to control many devices such as video games, toys, and even prosthetic limbs. To make it sound more fun, you could also make your own Iron Man blasters and Wolverine claws! The related videos by MyoWare spurred quite some excitement amongst millions of superhero fans who now see a chance to live their dreams! Imagine sensors that will pick up on the muscle flexes and trigger the blasts or popping up of claws! Sounds awesome, isn’t it?
Video credits: Advanced Technologies
The perks don’t end here. There is a $100 reward level where you get all the hardware you need to make your Iron Man blasters. Also, on every five donations of $25 or more, a sensor will be donated to Limitless Solutions, an organization devoted to creating 3D-printed prosthetics for disabled children around the world. The campaign has become quite popular and already amassed $10,000 in donations. So what are you waiting for – join the campaign and have your own indestructible claws!
4. Facebook will allow you to send money anywhere without any remittance costs
The rise of bitcoin has been hot in technology for quite some time and its trendiness is bound to increase in the time to come. Bitcoin is a clear example of how technology has facilitated the rising demands for a globally acceptable currency. However, there are many factors which hold Bitcoin back.
- Merchant acceptance
- Instant transactions (bitcoin transactions take about an hour to complete!)
These factors have been consistently worked upon by the world’s biggest social network, Facebook, which rolled out free peer-to-peer payments this March and is all set to become one of the world’s most powerful financial institutions! Yes, you will be soon able to transfer money worldwide through your Facebook profile. That is not all though – the costs associated with such transactions will be zero! Sounds like an awesome offer, doesn’t it?
Facebook plans to be the best payment service provider by striking on the most major problem faced during global pay outs: the high cost of transaction. According to statistics, foreign workers sent $583 billion to individuals back home last year. These transfers, known as remittances, are one of the largest financial inflows today. In some countries, they amount to 30% of the total GDP. That’s massive! However, the cost incurred in these transactions is considerable. The market is essentially a duopoly, dominated by Western Union and Money Gram. The average transfer fee is over 8 per cent and goes up to 29 per cent in many cases. Well, all of us agree with World Bank saying that paying $50 to send $200 is ethically and morally wrong. These remittances are sent from individual salaries in a bid to support families back home and such hefty deductions diminish personal savings! To put an end to this monopolistic regime, Facebook has launched its services with absolutely no fees on transfers. Although there will be charges incurred at the back end, those will not be passed on to the consumers. I believe this is a very noble notion and a very sustainable solution. The service is currently available to US residents but will soon be rolled out on a global scale. Steve Davis, product manager at Facebook, says that the entire service has a non-profit objective.
Video credits: Josh Costine
I believe that the solution Facebook offers (and hopefully sticks to in the long run) is comprehensive and will certainly destroy the supremacy of Western Union and Money Gram for good. According to Financial Times, Facebook is also close to receiving approval from the Central Bank of Ireland and become an electronic money institution across Europe. Users will be able to store money, transfer it, and use it to shop online! The potential is virtually limitless as millions of people will benefit from zero transaction costs, and money will flow more freely between nations, leading to sustainable economic equilibriums worldwide.
There is an even bigger opportunity for Facebook in terms of becoming the center of wireless finance! Yes, it’s something a lot bigger than what we discussed above. It is offering people who do not use formal banks, a centralised platform for e-commerce. McKinsey estimates that there are 2.5 billion people who do not use formal banking for e-commerce. This number is bound to increase exponentially. According to Ericsson, there will be 5.9 billion smartphone users worldwide by 2019. When that happens, there will be global paradigm shifts in economic and financial processes.
The importance of physical banks, plastic cards, and paper money will fade in such a digitally active global society. If Facebook becomes the central point for digital transactions, like it will soon be in Europe, then the ulterior advantages it has are immense. It may seem like the zero-cost transactions are a very ethical and noble concept but just think about it for a moment. Facebook will easily get its hands on the most vital piece of information: How people spend their money! The applications of owning the spending patterns of 5.9 billion people are limitless and quite scary as well! A combination of these patterns correlated with social graphs will provide perfect information to advertisers and publishers. This way, no other ad network will come even close to matching Facebook’s targeting capabilities!
Destroying existing dominance to become dominant yourself: That is crony capitalism all over again! What really happens will only unfold over time. Till then, we should definitely look at the brighter side of things. We are experiencing the biggest socioeconomic growth in human history. Digitization in itself is a revolution which is touching more and more people each passing day. It is only a matter of time before these people realise the benefits of the modern methods of digitized economy and become part of a global paradigm shift! Many of these ideas will take time to become globally acceptable. For those who have stayed away from Facebook till now, I think Mark Zuckerberg has come up with some compelling reasons for them to give it a second thought. What do you think?
5. Now get to know that part of the day which stresses you most
In our previous posts, we have seen how self-tracking apps and devices were empowering individuals with more control over their health issues. Taking that concept further, we have recently learned that you will soon be able to pinpoint that part of the day or a particular event which causes you stress. As stress is associated with innumerable health disorders, I believe such a device has to be hot in technology. Imagine you knew that it was your Tuesday weekly meeting which gave you the most stress, or you could calculate the amount of stress built up when you prepare for a tough paper. WellBe will give you access to such vital information. It is a wearable concept developed by Zach Sivan and Doron Libshtein, the people behind Mentors Channel, a virtual meditation site. The bracelet forces the user to see and react to his/her personal stress levels. The basic device employed is a heart rate tracker. The device will be ready to be rolled out by the end of 2015 at a price tag of $99.
Video credits: True Meaning Documentary Studio
According to Zach Sivan, the mission here is to encourage meditation and mindfulness as a habit. I believe among the numerous health apps and devices hitting the market every day, WellBe stands apart in terms of its ultimate goal. While other apps focus on outlining the issues, WellBe will persuade us toward natural courses of action to alleviate stress, such as mediation and yoga! The algorithm is quite fascinating. The bracelet uses two methods of heart rate monitoring: your resting heart rate and your heart rate variability (the time between each heartbeat). The logic is that stress directly affects the heart rate variability by releasing adrenaline, thereby making your breath shallower and your heartbeat faster. It then correlates the data to your calendar using Bluetooth and a stress-calculating algorithm (which is due for patent). These personal data analyses pinpoint exactly what stresses you out and then you can work on the same! I guess that is quite impressive, isn’t it?
Victoria Taylor, director of Child and Adolescent Services at the American Institute of Cognitive Therapy, suggests that the ability to pinpoint your stress is good but should not be overused. It should not be used to avoid people and certain situations. It should not be used to nullify positive stress which is a key requirement for development of abstract qualities such as coping skills or competitive spirits!
We saw how technology is changing almost everything we do and providing scope of newer and interesting things. The scope for nobler initiatives has increased, just like we saw how Google is supporting technology for the disabled. Firms such as Ocumetics and MyoWare are increasing the prospects for enhanced beings to exist by redefining perfect vision and linking muscle movements to machines. We also saw how Facebook, with its revolutionary services, may put an end to monopolistic pricing and high cost of global transactions. Last but not the least, we learnt about WellBe, a device which will tell us all about our stress levels and also guide us through meditative processes. The overall inference is that there is a trademark shift in what we use technology for these days. Digitization and other related advancements have led us to the point that more and more people are using advanced technology to do everyday things which they need and what interests them.