Most people think that the reason why people become addicted to drugs is solely because of the drugs themselves. This, however, is far from the truth, as shown repeatedly by scientific studies on drug addiction. The brilliant short animated video below will explain to you why drugs don’t actually cause addiction, changing your view on drugs forever.
A few years from now, people might reminisce about a time when they watched movies on screens and manually closed their bedroom curtains. Fortunately, we’re in the midst of a technological revolution. Nanoparticles might soon internally diagnose diseases, machines might build themselves and virtual reality headsets might replace televisions.
These innovative gadgets, however, aren’t only for wealthy corporations to enjoy. Many companies are creating innovative gadgets for everyday consumers as well. Here are 10 innovative gadgets built to make consumers’ lives easier in the next years.
1. Microsoft Hololens
Users will be able to create and interact with personally built or digitally projected holograms while wearing the HoloLens goggles. If users are especially fond of a holographic object they’ve built, they can bring it from the digital world into the physical world with the HoloStudio’s 3D printing capability. And, among other features, wearers of the HoloLens will be able to visually transport themselves to a different location — be it via a friend’s view of his or her room or the Mars Rover’s view of extraterrestrial life.
2. Myo Gesture Control Armband
Dubbed “The Next Generation of Gesture Control,” Myo is an armband full of motion and muscle sensors that is able to pickup on the “electrical activity in your muscles to wirelessly control” your electronics via Bluetooth. According to the company, the device will work with Windows and Mac OS, with iOS and Android support coming soon. We’re not futurists, but if we were to guess at how we will control our home in the future, it looks very similar to this.
3. Meta Augmented Reality
Meta provides holographic glasses that see through display and allow users to see, create and interact with digital objects shown in physical space. The company has shipped its first product, the Meta 1 Developer Kit after a $194k very successful Kickstarter campaign that ran in June 2013 (read here). Coupled with independent funding, they raised a total of $2 million by the end of the campaign.
Last month, January 2015, Meta announced a successful Series A funding round. During this round, the company raised $23 million from venture capitalists. Now, over 1500 developers and companies such as the world’s largest architecture firm Arup, Salesforce and Stanford University based company, SimX are building augmented reality applications with its SDK.
4. 3D Bioprinting Machines
We know that 3D printing technology can be used to do more than make odd plastic trinkets. Thanks to a group of bioengineers around the country, we now know that the technology can also be used to develop human tissue. Dubbed Bioprinting Machines, these devices can build patches of skin, blood vessels, and cartilage using living cells.
Though years away from clinical use, one company, Organovo Inc., has already released a commercial 3D bioprinter that cost “several hundred thousand dollars each,” according to the Wall Street Journal. It’s not the hardware that’s holding the technology back, however, Hod Lipson of Cornell’s Creative Machine Lab, says, “We have machines that can make almost anything, but we don’t have the design tools/ In bioprinting, there is no computer-aided design software for body parts.”
5. Drinkable Water Billboard
In 2013, it seems advertising is needed about as much as clean water. So it’s refreshing to see one company work to combine the two. Located in Luma, Peru, and developed by The University of Engineering and Technology of Peru (UTEC) and ad agency Mayo DraftFCB, the billboard is able to produce around 26 gallons of water a day using five filtration devices and Lima’s extremely humid air. The billboard is designed to not only provide water to Peru’s largest city-one in which 1.2 million residents don’t have running water, but to also encourage kids to apply to the UTEC and study engineering.
We know: Having an airline lose your luggage is not the worst thing in the world, but it still sucks. GlobalTrac aggress. The company this year released its TrakDot luggage tracker, which allows you to use your phone or tablet or computer to see exactly where your bags are. All you do is slip the device into your luggage, and then fire up the app. Now if it could only figure out how to get your lost luggage back to you, that’d be great.
7. Tooth Sensor
No one likes going to the dentist, even if it’s just for check-up. Scientists at Princeton and Tufts have been working a thin tooth sensor that may limit the amount of times you need to get your teeth checked. The sensor would alert you (and/or your dentist) when it detects any bacteria that could cause cavities, plaque buildup, or any other infections.
The researchers say the sensor shows great promise: in tests on eight people with a prototype implant installed in their dentures, the system recognised oral activities correctly 94 per cent of the time.
8. Leap Motion
The Leap Motion Controller senses how you naturally move your hands and lets you use your computer in a whole new way. Point, wave, reach, grab. More than that The Leap Motion Controller doesn’t replace your keyboard, mouse, stylus, or trackpad. It works with them, and without special adapters. The Leap Motion is available for £65 (€89.99).
9. Personal Robot
Apple created Siri, Microsoft created Cortana, Amazon created Alexa and Robotbase is in the process of creating Personal Robot. Unlike the others’, the Personal Robot’s name is decidedly generic so users can christen their robots themselves.
Although Robotbase’s future Alfreds and Dianas and R2-D2s aren’t slated for production until late 2015, the company’s Kickstarter claims its artificial intelligence personal robot will act as a stylist, office assistant, security system, speaker, camera, storyteller and household efficiency monitor. Shaped somewhat like an oversized spoon, the robot has a round monitor that’s attached to a mobile base with a built-in speaker, USB phone charger and 3D depth camera.
Few experiences are as frustrating as a morning alarm going off seemingly minutes after it was set. To combat this feeling, sleep tracking device Sense is equipped with a Sense Smart Alarm that will wake users at an optimal time in their sleep cycle. Users don’t need to worry about being late to work, as they still set their own alarm, but Sense will wake users slightly earlier if the Sleep Pill attached to their pillows detects they’re stirring earlier.
Users will therefore be prevented from falling deeper into sleep minutes before their alarm goes off, and will feel less groggy as a result. Sense not only monitors sleep quality, but also works to improve it. Its sensors monitor noise, light, temperature, humidity and particles to help users recognise, and possibly eliminate, the disturbances that wake them or lead to light, restless sleep.
Glasgow designer Fraser Ross has created a collection of seven conceptual human organs that would perform extra functions like squirting ink and spinning silk (+ movie).
The synthetic organs combine attributes from both humans and other animals, such as spiders and squid.
"I'm inspired by the idea that nature designs through evolution," said Ross. "In my design opinion, the integral part of any project is the material."
"Through synthetic biology, it's like discovering a big earth-size warehouse of new materials and their potential uses," he added. "For example if you want to make something waterproof look to the natural world and see how nature designed."
Ross has presented his ideas as a series of models, which were originally designed for a music video and are made from materials including animal hair, latex and ferrofluid.
The Connection organ – designed as an alternative method of communicating information – was based on the shape of a corn cob and was moulded using silicon and resin. When heated, the strands at the end of the organ unfurl to represent non-verbal transmission.
The Trinity organ was created for an alternative human circulatory system, in which different blood types might perform different functions, and was made by setting polyurethane liquid plastic in condoms and sculpting them by hand.
Other organs borrow on biological traits of different animals, such as the Toxic organ. Surrounded by magnetic ferrofluid, it was influenced by the ink dispersed by squid in self defence. The Cobweb organ is designed for a future when humans might incorporate spider genes, and was made by dip-moulding raspberries in silicone.
"There is lots of exciting research going on into the potential to genetically engineer artificial life with cutting edge manufacturing processes and to examine the implications of synthetic life in living products, tools or garments," said the designer.
Ross has also proposed alternative genitalia, including a detachable male hymen and a "third sexual organ", made by latex-casting an avocado, which pulses like a beating heart.
To create the bottles, spheres of ice are treated with a liquid form of the seaweed-derived membrane. When the membrane solidifies and the water melts, a portable, eco-friendly serving of packaged water remains. Each orb costs only 2 cents to construct.
"The most clear inspiration is the way nature encapsulate liquids using membranes. Made of lipids and proteins, the membrane enclose, limit and give a shape, keeping the balance between the interior and the exterior," the product's designers write.
Ooho! is the brainchild of London-based Skipping Rocks Lab, which just received a sizable sustainability grant from the European Union to hopefully introduce its novel concept on a large scale. The product also won the Lexus Design Award last year.
Ever wonder what germs are really growing on those subway poles? Brooklyn-based artist Craig Ward decided to find out. After riding all 22 of New York's subway lines, he collected bacterial samples from each train's handrails and turned them into colorful Petri-dish art.
Last April, Ward started riding New York's subway lines, swabbing away at the seats and chrome poles with a bag of sterile sponges, cut into the shape of the letters and numbers of the train he was on. "As soon as you start taking out scientific equipment and Petri dishes, people did start to look a bit," he says. "But no one really challenged me. You can get away with most things on the subway."
Once back in his studio, Ward used Petri dishes full of triptych soy agar jelly to grow the bacteria into samples. He then photographed the resulting colonies, lighting them according to the color scheme of the line the samples were taken from: the 7 train in violet, the G in green, and so on.
Where did such a strange idea come from? Ward can't remember, precisely. "I feel like recounting the genesis of an idea is a lot like trying to recount a car crash: it all happens very quickly and you can’t remember chunks of it," he says. Regardless, it turns out that the MTA is absolutely swarming with some pretty foul micro organisms. In his samples, Ward found E. coli, serratia marcescens (the leading cause of hospital-acquired infections), proteus mirabilis (which causes kidney stones), and salmonella.
But Ward doesn't think anyone should be creeped out. "When you look at your fellow commuters you see all kinds of shapes, sizes, and colors, and when you look at things on a microbial level, you see the same kind of variety," he says. "Some of them even look like little universes, and I think there is a beauty in them, even though they might at first appear a little jarring."
All Photos: Craig Ward
Basque designer Jean Louis Iratzoki has moulded the shell of a chair from a plant-based polymer that is fully recyclable and biodegradable
"There are two things happening right now that have transformed biotechnology," says Raymond McCauley, bioinformatics expert at Singula in California, whose job is to nurture ideas and mentor bio-startups. The first, he says, is the digitisation of biology -- gathering data, examining how human systems work and testing drugs can all be done in a computer. The other is the democratisation of the tools. "Hackers are taking $3.5 million [£2.2 million] DNA sequencers and building the same thing for 1/10,000 of the price," he says. "What was an infant science a few years ago can now be a commercial venture." McCauley gives Wired six examples of future biotech products.
Missouri-based startup Modern Meadow has devised a method to make leather from bacteria. "Next year's fashion accessory could be vat-grown shoes," says McCauley, who works with the startupat Singularity University. Using insights from medical tissue engineering and stem-cell research, CEO Andras Forgacs is applying the same slaughter-free techniques to growing meat products.
Electric DNA control
Evolutionary Solutions, a Mountain View startup, can make custom DNA on demand. Traditional methods to synthesise DNA are extremely expensive, prone to high error rates and take a long time to do. Instead, the startup has developed a technology that uses an electric field to control a DNA-producing protein, to make sure the DNA sequence produced is error-free and fast.
Canadian fruit producer Okanagan Specialty Fruits makes Arctic apples: fruit that has gone through a process called gene silencing, which prevents them from going brown when sliced or bitten. "They're just turning the dial down on a gene, rather then adding in foreign genes and turning it into a Frankenfood," says McCauley. The apples will still rot, but not for a few days.
Mining the microbiome
San Francisco firm Second Genome wants to sequence our microbiome. These trillions of organisms are, says McCauley, "inside and on top of humans," and are needed to digest food, prevent disease-causing bacteria in the body, and synthesise nutrients. Second Genome's business model is based on trying to figure out how the data can be useful to doctors and whether it could influence drug design.
23ansMe started the trend of individual DNA testing in 2006, but several startups are taking this further. StationX has a software system that will sequence tumour DNA from cancer patients, then provides data analysis to tell them whether a specific drug or treatment will work. DNA Nexus, meanwhile, is building software to upload genetic infrastructure into the cloud, so genomic data and tools can be instantly shared.
Cambrian Genomics custom-prints genes using lasers. "A hundred million base pairs of DNA made by the old methods would cost $100 million. We can make it for $37,000," says Austen Heinz, cofounder and CEO of the San Francisco-based startup. Clients include the US military, which wants DNA to create new types of biomaterials, and synthetic-biology startup Universal Bio Mining, to make microbes for Nasa Mars missions.
Written by Madhumita Venkataramanan
Recent graduate from the Royal College of Art Johanna Schmeer considers the future of food based on her knowledge of the possibilities afforded by nanotechnology.
Built on fact, her project is based on a recent scientific breakthrough by scientist Russell Johnson, who has identified a way to synthesise functioning biological cells made from plastics. Johanna has created 7 food products that fulfill the essential food groups. These speculative objects secrete powders and liquids that could be ingested in the future.
by JADE MOYANO