3 things direct from the future

13th Edition

Once every 2 weeks I will deliver “3 things direct from the future”. A 2 minute read that will always give you:

  • one thing that can help,
  • one thing to be wary of, and
  • one thing to amaze.

If this sounds interesting to you then please subscribe.


1. One to help

Hand-held Device for Cancer Diagnosis

Diabetics use a handheld device called a glucometer on a regular basis. They provide a drop of blood to the device which it uses to analyse and monitor their blood sugar levels, allowing people to take early action when required. Now a team from McMaster and Brock universities have developed a portable, affordable device that can do the same thing – but for cancer diagnosis!

Hand-held device for cancer diagnosis

Using a drop of the patient’s blood, it analyses against known cancer biomarkers and can output an indicative result in around 30 minutes. Leyla Soleymani’s team has developed a prototype device that can detect prostate cancer. Soleymani says:

“This is another step toward truly personalized medicine. We’re getting away from centralized, lab-based equipment for this kind of testing. This would make monitoring much more accessible and cut down on the number of times patients need to leave home to provide blood samples.”

Devices like this are making monitoring our health easier and therefore catching disease indicators earlier. Also for anyone who has had a prostate examination, you’ll be very grateful for this new development!

2. One to be wary of

UK’s COVID Excel Stuff-up

I’m going to let you in on a computer programmer in-joke. I know! Calm down you’ve never been this excited. When people using our software report an issue that turns out to be their fault we report back and say it is fixed. Then we log it as an eye-dee-ten-tee error. Or written correctly iD10T. Today’s wary topic is a huge iD10T issue.

The BBC reports that, between September 25 and October 2 this year, 15,841 confirmed cases of COVID-19 went unreported. The cause: Public Health England used an old Excel format to store data pulled from reported COVID-19 cases.

Trouble is, the old format (.XLS) only handles 65,000 rows. If the newer format (.XLSX) was used, the template would have handled many many more rows. Once XLS reached its 65,000 row limit any extra data was ignored. This resulted in around 16,000 COVID-19 cases going unreported, putting more people at risk.

This incident reminds us that, whilst technology is having a massive positive impact in the health sector, people and process are necessary to ensure the accuracy of sensitive and very important data.

3. One to amaze

Electric Roads

Australia, where I live, is a pretty big place. Brisbane to Perth would be around 45 hours of driving, and there ain’t enough electric vehicle charging stations along the way to keep your Tesla humming. But what if the road you travel on charges your car’s battery?

Israeli start-up ElectReon Wireless is doing just that. ElectReon is delivering roads that can charge your electric car. This is made possible by installing copper coils under the asphalt road which talk to a receiver on the car. When the car drives over the copper coils the car’s battery is charged wirelessly. The electric road has been tried successfully in Sweden, and another trial in Israel’s Tel Aviv is expected to be just as positive.

OK , I don’t imagine that we will have electric roads in the Simpson Desert anytime soon, but if the technology is deployed extensively electric cars will see greater use. Also, if we can combine the developments in producing more environmentally friendly batteries (see previous issues of this newsletter), and hook the roads up to a renewable energy source we can drastically reduce the impact of cars on the planet.

Have a great week.

PS – If you want a really innovative, easy way to offset your impact on the planet, check out reforest.com.au. The beta app we built for this great start-up is available now and we are working on the first full release – due out in the coming weeks. Get on board early and make a difference.

Have a great week.

Daniel J McKinnon

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