3 things direct from the future

41st 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 thing that helps

WiFi Power

Very clever people with a very clever idea.

Problem:  The world is power hungry. Batteries are expensive and bad for the planet.

Solution: Use the excess Wi-Fi signals that are literally EVERYWHERE and convert them to power.

A team from the National University of Singapore and Japan’s Tohoku University has been able to use our excess 2.4Ghz Wi-Fi signals as a power source. 

Using spin-torque oscillators (emerging devices that generate microwaves), Wi-Fi is converted into energy. The team successfully used that energy to power an LED wirelessly without the need for batteries. Using a series of spin-torque oscillators, a 2.4Ghz Wi-Fi band was converted to direct voltage for five seconds. After turning off the Wi-Fi, the spin-torque oscillator array was able to power the LED for a whole minute using only the energy stored in its capacitor, no batteries involved. Hopefully, this is just the start.

While spin-torque oscillators inherently produce just a small amount of power, we can still use it for wireless charging, small gadgets and sensors. If we can eliminate the need for batteries in such devices, it will mean less material to produce and recycle. Who knew that green energy can be found right inside your home?


2. One to be wary of

Get Out Of My Dreams

We talked about shaping our own dreams back in edition 11.  It was only a matter of time before advertisers were looking to explore this new frontier and shove ads into our dreams.  Seriously!

We are so flooded by advertisements on a daily basis that it’s easy to overlook them.  Will it be as easy to overlook them on a nightly basis?  It seems that corporations are looking to move into our last area of peace and put ads in our dreams. It’s called Targeted Dream Incubation and (surprise!) sleep scientists are warning against it.

In this video by Molson Coors Beverage Company, they asked volunteers to test whether they can insert ads about Coors beer in participants’ dreams. 

So can we implant ads in people’s dreams? Yes. Is it ethical? Even the guy in the video couldn’t give a straight answer, and that should be a red flag. Whilst the technology currently requires volunteers to actively participate, who knows what will be possible as the number of devices, sensors and smart speakers increase in our homes.  As the sleep scientists say:
“It is easy to envision a world in which smart speakers… become instruments of passive, unconscious overnight advertising, with or without our permission.”

We’ve been talking about protecting your data. Now, weird as it may sound, you may need to soon think about protecting your thoughts and dreams. 


3. One to amaze

Stretchable Devices

Samsung researchers an 1
Credit: samsung

I love my Samsung Z-Flip phone more than I should.  If I could compress it down and then stretch it out? That would blow my mind!

Flip phones and tablets have been here for quite some time now. So where are we heading? Stretchable devices. Samsung revealed in the journal Science Advances that it has successfully bypassed the limitations of stretchable devices. 

Samsung created a stretchable skin display putting an OLED display on an elastomer structure for elasticity and resilience. This device can stretch by up to 30% of its original size while maintaining stable performance. The device detects heartbeat signals 2.4 more strongly than a fixed silicon sensor. Being stretchable means that as the wearer moves about, doing day-to-day activities, the device can adapt, bend or stretch accordingly. 

The material used is also compatible with current semiconductor processes so integration is easy. Knowing Samsung, it may not be too far in the future when, instead of zooming out of a page, you just stretch your phone’s display to see more details. Bring it on!


Have a great week.

Daniel J McKinnon

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