3 things direct from the future

4th 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 can help

A Swiss laboratory has designed a virus destroying mask. Your current mask is only trapping the bad stuff (pathogens) and when you dispose of it there is a danger the mask will become a new contamination risk.

These new masks are made from titanium oxide nanowires and they first trap the greebies (technical term) and then destroy them with light.  I’m envisaging something like this…

Virus destroying mask

Ultraviolet radiation converts the moisture in the fabric into oxidising agents such as hydrogen peroxide. These oxidising agents then destroy the bacteria and viruses caught in the filter. The really exciting thing is that the same technology could also be utilised in things such as air-conditioning and ventilation systems, opening up a new front in fighting COVID-19 before it hits us.


2. One thing to be wary of

Today’s “one thing to be wary of” needs to be clarified.  I am not saying not to install COVID tracking apps (that is up to you). My point is we should be wary about relying on them.  The evidence coming out, and our experience as app developers, suggests that they are not working well.

In contrast, the results that people involved in manual contact-tracing here and around the world are producing, is nothing short of astounding.

Here in Australia the government was forcefully pushing us all to install their COVIDSafe contact tracing app but they seem to have gone quiet on it. It is difficult to find any evidence they have helped trace anyone.  These apps use the Bluetooth tech in your phone to record other devices that have the app and are nearby, this information is then stored and can be accessed in the case of a positive test.

Bluetooth is always troublesome, especially on locked phones or with apps running in the background.  Here at Frontside Future we have been unable, when developing background-run features, to get any certainty that they will always run. Mostly we are at the mercy of the iOS/Android operating systems.

Perhaps the upcoming raft of apps being built on the Apple/Google decentralized “inbuilt exposure-notification framework” will prove more reliable and capture a large enough market share to work.  In this case however I think technology is not the silver bullet we are hoping for.


3. One thing to amaze

Ai roman emperors

Forget your washed-out, chipped, limb-missing Roman emperor marble busts. Thanks to Daniel Voshart, ancient Roman emperors have been brought back to life using AI machine learning.

This is an awesome example of someone using commercially available AI tools to create something new.  Daniel first sourced a series of portraits for each subject and then manually adjusted them with Photoshop for compatibility. Then the kicker was feeding them into Artbreeder.com, which uses the machine learning method “generative adversarial network” (GAN), to manipulate the portraits and bring them to life.

I love that in order to train the algorithms he also used some creativity and diversity. For creating Maximinus Thrax he fed in images of the wrestler André the Giant.  I’m hoping when they recreate me in 1000 years time they feed in some Pitt and Clooney.

This technique will enable us to bring history alive in so many different environments and make it so much more exciting for kids learning about prior civilisations.


Have a great week.

Daniel J McKinnon

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