3 things direct from the future

7th 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

Wearable air-con

With summer kicking in (here in my part of the world) we’ll all soon be cranking up the air-con. Does it seem crazy to anyone else that we cool our entire house, at great cost to the environment and our bank-balance, in order to keep our bodies cool? What, if instead of cooling spaces, we wore the AC directly on our body?

A team from Donghua University in Shanghai has fabricated textile that can efficiently cool the body without using any electricity. To achieve this they use a process called electrospinning, to join polyurethane, fluorinated polyurethane and a thermally conductive filler into nanofibrous membranes. What a great sentence! Make sense? 🙂

The fabric efficiently transfers the heat away from your body while allowing air to pass through. Even if you sweat heavily, the pores of the fabric are large enough to not be blocked, allowing the cooling work to continue unimpeded.

Fancy wearing aircon, anyone? Makes complete sense to me.

2. One thing to be wary of

Amazon Spies on its Workers

Amazon is monitoring and recording the social media posts of its delivery drivers to identify drivers who may be organising strike action. Even more alarming is that this tracking includes “closed” or “private” social media groups and pages.

In an effort to track employee sentiment and to keep labour unions in check, Amazon tracks what the drivers are posting. Every comment is categorised and labeled as “positive” or as a “complaint”. Any comment or post that is deemed threatening to the company is forwarded up the chain. The monitoring tool and its reports were found on a random domain and Amazon has confirmed the reports were generated by them.

It is unlikely that Amazon is alone in this practice so my recommendation is to avoid posting anything, on any section of the web, that you wouldn’t want your employer to see.

3. One thing to amaze

Masks that Communicate through Blinking
Masks that communicate through blinking

Image courtesy of Behnaz Farahi and sourced from Vice

Technology is driving non-verbal communication in many ways. Behnaz Farahi, designer and creative technologist, has created masks that can communicate with each other through blinking.

From the referenced Vice article: “…the AI system allows the 18 eyes of the mask to blink and learn from one another. Each mask also gathers biometric information by tracking the opening of the wearer’s eyelids in real-time. Using machine learning, it records, analyzes, and learns from the movement of the opposite mask. This information controls the speed of the blinking actuators, generating sentences in Morse code in a series of blinks. The next mask receives sentences and responds, creating a haunting landscape of unspoken words.”

OK so no-one is going to be walking around the streets wearing one of these anytime soon. It is an early indication of a future in which spoken language is just one of the ways we use to communicate with each other. A future where technology will enable those who cannot always rely on speech.

Have a great week.

Daniel J McKinnon

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