3 things direct from the future

18th Edition

Once per week 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.

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1. One thing to help

Skin to brain sound

Skin to Brain Sound

Hearing-impaired people rely on their sight to be aware of their environment. Trouble is, you can’t always see a blaring siren or a dripping tap. That’s why Neosensory Buzz helps the hearing-impaired to “feel” these, and other, sounds in the environment.  Rather than relying on amplification, the Buzz mimics your cochlea and sends sound information through the skin straight to the brain.

Dr David Eagleman PHD (whose books on neuroscience and the brain are AMAZING) says, “Your brain doesn’t know and it doesn’t care where it gets the data from. It is fundamentally always trying to get information across the senses. Whatever information comes in, it just figures out what to do with it.”

The Buzz is a wristwatch that the person wears. It uses vibrational patterns to translate sound in the environment. For example, when it picks up the sound of a car honking, it will send off a unique vibration pattern. It will do the same when someone says the wearer’s name. What’s more, it also helps the user feel the beat of music so they can dance in sync.

Buzz has three settings in the app that are fit for every situation: Everyday mode for day-today activities; Music mode, and; Sleep mode to alert the user only when alarms ring (it can ignore snoring!). In this video, a deaf user explains how he has benefitted from Buzz:

Having seen firsthand the difference that technology can make for the deaf community I am sure this is another great leap forward.

2. One to be wary of

Child Protection Software Ban

Tech companies use automatic detection tools across chat and messaging apps to identify suspected child pornography images, or to detect chats that might focus on online grooming of children. An upcoming EU ban on this technology may put more children at risk worldwide.

Proponents of the ban argue that such automated scanning violates data and privacy rights. However, if such a ban were to take effect, it will make catching online sexual offenders much more difficult. We know that these people use social media and online games to groom their victims. Without such automated detection tools in place, the fight to protect our children becomes an uphill battle. 

This is aggravated by the fact that a ban of such tech in the EU will lead to tech companies not using the tools anywhere in the world. Regular readers of this newsletter will know that I am extremely critical of the way big tech is eroding our privacy, however this is a clear case in which, given appropriate regulation, this technology should be deployed for the greater good.  Moreover, these anti-grooming tools use the same methods as those deployed in detecting spam and malware, something that we are grateful for on a daily basis.

 

3. One to Amaze

Walking Car

“Walking” and “car” seem to be two words incompatible with each other. But I’m not talking about you walking – your CAR is walking! Just check out the above original concept video from Hyundai’s Elevate concept – cars that can drive on the highway and then walk as the terrain sees fit. 

Hyundai is said to be in talks to buy Boston Dynamics, maker of Spot the robotic dog. The goal for this deal? Most probably to gain the technology to design and build the legs for Hyundai’s walking cars. 

One may think of extreme 4×4 adventures. You know, drive on the highway then take a turn leading to the rugged outdoors. A five foot wall blocking the way? A chasm that stops your wheels? Just bring out those legs and step over it. But before we drift into daydreams, Hyundai said that the walking cars are primarily going to be used for search and rescue operations:

“When a tsunami or earthquake hits, current rescue vehicles can only deliver first responders to the edge of the debris field. They have to go the rest of the way by foot. Elevate can drive to the scene and climb right over flood debris or crumbled concrete.”

But really, I like to think this is just one step closer to seeing Transformers on the streets.

“Autobots, Transform And Roll Out!”

Have a great week.

Daniel J McKinnon

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