3 things direct from the future

54th 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

Bloodless Glucose Monitor


The dreaded pinprick for monitoring blood sugar levels will hopefully soon be a thing of the past. Scanbo is perfecting a method to monitor your blood sugar levels without drawing blood at all.

Scanbo developed a prototype device that uses ECG measurement and Photoplethysmogram (PPG) to measure glucose levels in the blood. ECG records electrical signals while PPG detects blood volume by measuring changes in light absorption. Both methods do not require surgery to perform and hence, no blood. 

As Scanbo founder and CEO, Ashissh Raichura explains:

“We use the three electrodes for ECG data and an additional measurement for PPG. We measure for 60 seconds, and then take the raw data and analyze that using the machine learning convolutional neural network, and the deep neural network. We combine all of that data, take the three machine learning algorithms, see what comes as a result, and then analyze the glucose.”

Easy see? All you need is your standard convolutional neural network!

The test results were compared with conventional blood sugar monitoring methods, Scanbo returned 6.3 mmol/L while the finger-prick method returned 6.2 mmol/L. If this new method passes through regulation, it may mean more accessible monitoring for millions of people living with diabetes.


2. One to be wary of

AI Prosecutor

A while ago, we talked about how AI is being used in the field of law to scour through documents and help lawyers prepare their cases faster and more efficiently. Over in China, the state combines both Minority Report and Robocop to come up with an AI prosecutor. Yes, that’s not a mere assistant to human lawyers but a prosecutor itself that can identify crimes and file charges.

With 97 percent accuracy (too bad if you’re in that 3% I guess), the government hopes to replace human prosecutors with this AI in the decision-making process. The AI is trained to sort through information, removing irrelevant information as it builds up a case. It also has the ability to process human language.

Tested in Shanghai Pudong People’s Procuratorate, the largest district public prosecution in China, the AI was able to analyse cases and charge people with the eight most common crimes:  credit card fraud, gambling, reckless driving, intentional assault, obstructing an officer, theft, fraud, and political dissent. 

The AI with 97% accuracy will make mistakes, and may wrongly charge people with crimes they are not guilty of. So we are left with the question of who is responsible when the AI does commit such a mistake, and what will the various governments of the world set as an acceptable “failure” rate?

3. One to amaze

Colour-Shifting Car

P90447378 highres bmw ix flow featurin

Just don’t know what colour to choose for your new car? Well, maybe you don’t have to. BMW has just shown off its BMW iX Flow, an electric car that can change its colour on the fly.

To achieve this effect, BMW uses E ink that is used for e-readers. The surface coat on the car contains tiny microcapsules with negatively charged white pigments and positively charged black pigments. Using electrical stimulation, the coat can change the colour of the exterior. For now, it’s limited to black, white and grey – but BMW aims to add more colours. It is super low on power consumption and if you were to cut the power off at a certain colour, it stays in that colour. But why make a colour-shifting car?

BMW says it’s not so that you can avoid the cops. Aside from personal preferences for each driver, changing colours can also make the car more energy efficient. For example, on a hot sunny day, white will reflect more sunlight, thus reducing the temperature inside. On a cold day, black will help to warm up the interior. 

The tech is still in the proof-of-concept stage and there might be some legal questions about it but this feels like one of those things that will eventually become a standard issue.

Have a great week.

Daniel J McKinnon

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