Innovation Watch: Let’s Get Futuristic


From memory-assisting computer chips in your brain, to driverless public transport, a few recent innovations and start-ups have really made me feel like we are living in the future. Here are some innovations from the last two weeks that I’m excited about.

Computers in your brain

You may have seen this one already, but if you haven’t, this is a great video from a show called Futurescape on the Science Channel about recent research into using a computer chip to assist memory. The researchers in the clip have figured out a way to convert electrical brain signals to digital signals, and vice versa. The same research group has also used an implant to improve picture-matching ability in monkeys. The video covers a few of the what-if’s quite well; in particular, I find the comment about segregation of the haves and the have-not’s to be important here. It’s happening already, and I think that it will become more and more obvious as the pace of technological advancement increases.

Technical sidebar: The video won’t embed. Sorry about that one.

GPS tracking bullets

The next one is pretty self-explanatory: any science fiction fan will tell you that a tracker bullet or dart is a sci-fi thriller staple. The system works like an air rifle, and fires a GPS tracking ‘bullet’ at a fleeing vehicle, which can be tracked using a smartphone or laptop. It is being tested in two states in the USA, before being rolled out to the rest of the country. Once they get that right, I hope that they start work on a more complex sensor package for human targets – a bullet that will deliver biometrics such as heart-rate, blood type and even a DNA barcode ID isn’t so far off.

via Big Think

Driver-free public transport

Driverless public transport is another science fiction staple, and in the last year it has become a reality in several countries, mostly as a pilot program (in case, you know, the autonomous vehicles freak out, lock their passengers inside and make off into the sunset. Or something). You probably heard all about Elon Musk‘s Hyperloop earlier this year – at least one company, ET3 is building one already. In Singapore, driverless electric vehicles are being tested for short-distance commuting. And in the UK, a driverless ‘pod’ system has been running successfully at Heathrow for two years, and is now being implemented in the town of Milton Keynes. The pods are ordered using a smartphone app, and drive in specially built lanes. Pretty nifty, I’d say. I’m sure that eventually, all public transport will be like this. To be honest, I don’t really know why trains even have drivers any more.

Bonus futuristic thing: check out the video for this all-your-cards-in-one-device, called Coin:

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