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Ray Hammond’s Glimpses of the Future

5th April 2012

Futurologist , technology analyst and keynote speaker Ray Hammond, looks to the future with exciting predictions, including a possible cure for Alzheimers and glasses which will place computers inches from your eyes!

1.    Google To Launch Heads Up Display Data Glasses By End Of Year
“Google is said to be ready to launch ‘heads up’ display data spectacles by the end of 2012. The data glasses are expected to cost around the price of current smartphones, or $250 to $600.

"The glasses will be Android-based, and will include a small screen that will sit a few inches from the wearer’s eyes. They will also have a 3G or 4G data connection and a number of sensors including motion and GPS.

"Whether these, or DARPA’s contact lenses (see below), will become the ‘viewpers’ I imagined in my 1999 novel ‘Emergence’ is unclear.  But my money’s on Google.”

"2.    Implantable Microchips Deliver Drugs To Patients On Schedule
Scientists from MIT and Massachusetts-based company MicroCHIPS Inc., have announced success in the first clinical trial of an implantable chip-based device, that automatically delivers regular doses of medication to osteoporosis sufferers.
MIT professors Robert Langer and Michael Cima began work on the technology about 15 years ago, which led to the formation of MicroCHIPS, which has been developing the technology.

"In the trial, the programmable chips were each loaded with 20 doses of the osteoporosis drug teriparatide, each dose sealed within its own pinprick-sized reservoir. Each of those reservoirs was capped with a mixture of platinum and titanium (or gold), which melted when an electrical current was applied from an integrated battery - thus releasing the drug into the body. The devices are capable of following a preprogrammed medication schedule, although they can also be manually triggered via radio communication over a select frequency. In this way, doctors could remotely adjust a patient's dosage, if needed.

"The chips will also be able to deliver doses of many other types of medicines.

"3.    EasyJet To Trial ‘”Green Taxing” In Its Fleet
British-based no-frills airline easyJet has thrown its weight behind the development of an electrically-powered taxiing system which will be used to power the aircraft in place of its jet engines when on the ground.

"The "electric green taxiing system" (EGTS) is a joint venture by engineering and aerospace conglomerates Honeywell and Safran. Safran claims that four percent of easyJet's fuel consumption is used taxiing aircraft before take off and after landing from and to gates.
With EGTS, some of the aircraft's main wheels are fitted with motors and actuators affording pilots complete control of the plane when taxiing, even when the jet engines are switched off.

"The system is powered by an auxiliary generator. It sounds as though little to no airport infrastructure is required and that the bulk (if not all) of the technology is housed on the plane. It's hoped that EGTS will eliminate the need for tugs to bring aircraft safely in and out of stands.

"4.    Established Cancer Drug Shown To Reverse Alzheimer’s Disease In Mice
In a surprise finding, neuroscientists at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine have found that bexarotene, a drug currently prescribed to treat cancer, appears to reverse Alzheimer’s symptoms in mice.

"The results suggest that bexarotene has a significant potential to help the 27 million people in the world who suffer from the progressive brain disease.
When used in mice, the drug was successful in removing the build-up of amyloid plaque in the brain — a pathological hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease — as well as reversing cognitive symptoms and memory deficits.

"Bexarotene even helped restore lost nesting behaviours in mice with Alzheimer’s disease within 72 hours of treatment. The drug also improved the ability of the mice to sense and respond to odours.

"Full clinical trials are now in preparation.

"5.    DARPA Is Creating ‘Virtual Reality’ Contact Lenses
The American defence research agency DARPA is working with Innovega to create wearable contact lenses with tiny, full-colour displays that digital images can be projected onto to give the wearers better situational awareness in intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) activities, according to the agency.

"iOptiks are contact lenses that enhance normal vision by allowing a wearer to view virtual and augmented reality images without the need for f oversized virtual reality helmets,
Digital images are projected onto tiny full-colour displays on the contact lenses. This allows users to focus simultaneously on close-up and far away objects while sill interacting with the surrounding environment.

"6.    A New Anti-Cancer Drug From Natural Sources?
Korean scientists have discovered a new anti-cancer agent that may offer a new and safe way to treat cancer without the side effects of anti-cancer drugs, as the substance already exists in human bodies.

"A team at Seoul National University has confirmed anti-cancer activities of Glycyl-tRNA synthetase (GRS), an enzyme that was previously only known to interact with other bodily substances to create protein, according to the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.

"The team, however, has found that when a cancer cell is detected, the human immune system generates GRS, which in turn attacks the cancer cell.

"A laboratory test has also confirmed cancer cells in mice with an injection of refined and amplified dose of GRS gradually perished while those in a controlled or untreated group continued to grow.

"7.    UK Bus Shelters To Smell Of Baked Potatoes
"British bus shelters often smell unpleasant (especially in city centres) but now some of these shelters in cities across the UK are to be fitted with smell-emitting advertisements designed to mimic the aroma of a slow-baked potato.
The shelters won't perpetually make these smells, however. A button on the poster, when pressed by passers by, fires up a concealed heating element which creates the scent.

"The idea is reminiscent of Smell-O-Vision, the  doomed 1960s olfactory system designed to enhance movies. A combination of teething technical difficulties and its attachment to a rather poor film caused a wave of negative PR from which it failed to bounce back.
Will it work inn bus shelters? I won’t be holding my breath (or maybe I will).

"8.    Geo-engineering Talked Up Again (But Never Forget The Law Of Unintended Consequences)

"In the face of potentially catastrophic effects on global food production, some experts have proposed drastic solutions to counteract climate change such as reflecting sunlight away from the Earth. A new study from the Carnegie Institution for Science examining the effects of sunshade geoengineering has concluded that such an approach would be more likely to improve food security than threaten it.

"Just as large volcanoes cool the planet by ejecting massive amounts of small particles into the stratosphere, one sunshade geoengineering proposal would involve using high-flying airplanes to release small particles in the stratosphere that would scatter sunlight back into space. Just like the volcanic particles, these would fall back to Earth within a year so they would have to be constantly replenished to stop the planet heating back up.

"The fear is that such an approach could have unintended consequences for the climate, particularly in terms of its effect of precipitation. (Surely not!)

"9.    A Breath Test That Can Detect Cancer?
Soon it may be possible for a simple breath test to detect some forms of cancer. Metabolomx, a startup company in Mountain View, California, recently completed a clinical trial that shows that its breath test can spot lung cancer with 83 percent accuracy and can also distinguish between several different types of the disease, something that usually requires a biopsy. The accuracy of the test matches what's possible with low-dose computerized tomography imaging of the lungs.

"Existing tests for lung cancer—the leading cause of cancer death worldwide—cause too many false positives, which means patients face unnecessary biopsies or exposure to radiation from imaging, and none are currently approved by Medicare. A breath test promises much simpler, safer screening.

"Chemical results of a tumour's metabolism are dissolved in the blood, and can end up in the breath. Trained dogs can identify breath samples from patients with lung cancer with 98 percent accuracy. Researchers have been working on a noninvasive cancer breath test for years, but have struggled to make one that is simple, reliable, and portable enough. A method called gas chromotography-mass spectrometry can detect metabolites in the breath, but it can't be done at the bedside, and requires some expertise to operate.

"10.    British Company Produces Mini Genome Decoding Device
British company Oxford Nanopore says it will begin selling by the end of the year a disposable DNA sequencer about the size of a USB memory stick that can be plugged directly into a laptop or desktop computer and used to perform a single-molecule sensing experiment. The device is expected to sell for $900, according to the company.

"The company also unveiled a larger benchtop version of the technology. It says a configuration of 20 of the benchtop instruments could completely sequence a human genome in 15 minutes.

"The technology is based on a radically different sequencing method that has been in the works for more than a decade at Oxford University, Harvard and the University of California, Santa Cruz. DNA strands are pulled through nanopores embedded in a polymer. As the DNA passes through the nanopore, specific sequences are identified based on varying electronic signals from the different bases. As a result, the technology can read DNA sequences directly and continuously. The company says double-stranded DNA can be sensed directly from blood.

11.    Space Elevator Planned For 2050
Arthur C. Clark envisioned the space elevator in his 1979 novel ‘The Fountains Of Paradise”. Now Obayashi Corp., a Tokyo company, has unveiled a project to build a space elevator by the year 2050 that would transport passengers to a station 36,000 kilometres above the Earth and transmit power to the ground.

"A cable, made of carbon nanotubes, would be stretched up to 96,000 kilometres, or about one-fourth of the distance between the Earth and the moon. One end of the cable would be anchored at a spaceport on the ground, while the other would be fitted with a counterweight.

"The terminal station would house laboratories and living space. The elevator car could carry 30 people to the station at 200 kilometres per hour, a 7-1/2 day trip.

"It would include a space solar power system to transmit power to the ground for electrical distribution.

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