Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Future of Technology

Rollable scrunchable video screens.

This is what one company, E Ink, the ones who invented the screen for the Kindle, are trying to accomplish.  These screens would be attached to cloth and other materials.  The video seen from this link shows an e-ink display sewn right into some Tyvex cloth, a tough paper-like cloth used for shipping envelopes.

Reinvented Microscope Which Scans An Entire Large Area At Once.

Traditional scanning microscopes scan bits of an image at a time to create an overall image.  This new microscope, designed by Fraunhofer, captures the whole image simultaneously.  The design of this product is quite small, so a doctor could simply hold it in his/her hand to scan for skin cancer or for someone to possibly scan your passport.  There are many possibilities for this device, especially in the fields of medicine and government.

Now, this invention initially made me laugh.  Cat ear headband, made by Neurowear,  that reflects your thoughts.  These headbands include sensors for reading brainwaves.  The ears are designed to act like a natural body part; they spring to attention when the wearer focuses and droop as a person relaxes their thoughts.  Right now these ears are considered fashionable, but this concept has the possibility of helping people with health problems that make communication difficult.  

Affective Intelligent Driving Agent (AIDA), a creation by MIT, socially interacts with the driver and reads the driver's facial expressions to gauge the inferred route and destination preferences of the driver.  This display is  slightly obnoxious, covering the whole dashboard and even overlays onto the rearview mirrors, but the concept holds promise for a navigation system that is more interactive than others systems and is not a handheld device, which can also be found distracting.

As I read about many of these inventions on the Popular Science website, I was intrigued to see technological concepts also seen in Vinge's Rainbows End.  It is absolutely amazing how quickly technology is advancing.  The durable, medium transferable video screens show the potential to have displays on new products such as clothing.  The new microscope technology has promise for progress in the medical field of finding health problems such as cancer; perhaps, furthering the research to find a cure for cancer.  The headband that is controlled by brainwaves may lead to a better understanding of social communication.  And last but not least, the interactive navigation system, a concept similar to "wearing" in Vinge's novel.  When "wearing", a reader can control the appearance of his/her surroundings and find out information about the things, places, and people they are seeing.  This navigation display is somewhat how I envision Vinge's characters seeing information about their surroundings in the book, except their display may be "slightly" more advanced.  It is fascinating to me how far technology is coming, and its impact on society.  These inventions may or may not be very important, only time will tell.  Would you use any of these products, and if so, which ones and why?  


  1. I want that cat ear headband! But I feel like only Asians could pull of that look. It was an interesting video though--cool find!

  2. That heads-up display from MIT is pretty rad. I wouldn't mind testing one of those out. That could easily be the future for things like GPS and the like.