Inflection Point: Tissue Regeneration

May 19 2008 / by juldrich / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Biotechnology   Year: Beyond   Rating: 7 Hot

By Jack Uldrich

Cross-posted from www.jumpthecurve.net

One of my preferred methods for trying to understand where the future might be headed is to look for those areas where technology can address a compelling human need. To this point, this past weekend I read with great interest this opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal entitled “Why We Need a Market for Human Organs.” It’s a well-reasoned piece and the sentiment appeals to my more libertarian and free market-oriented sensibilities. Nevertheless, I am of the opinion that within the next 10-15 years advances in tissue and organ regeneration technology will render the need for “organ markets” obsolete.

I have written about this idea before, but I’d encourage you to read this new government report entitled “2020: A New Vision – A Future for Regenerative Medicine.” According to the report the current world market for replacement organ therapies is in excess of $350 billion. More disturbing, however, is the fact that there are currently over 100,000 patients are on a waiting list for an organ donation and an estimated 8,000 people on that list will die this year while waiting for a transplant. (cont.)

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Cellphones Proliferate Other Industries

June 03 2008 / by randalc / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Economics   Year: 2009   Rating: 7 Hot

Cellular phones continue to follow Moore’s law and technologically grow in power each year. Inventive individuals continue to fund new ways to harness this power into other industries such as movie making, music broadcasting, and now real estate.

According to a Cincinnati real estate blog, cellular phones are becoming a useful real estate tool. The smart phone and txt enabled phones can send short codes found on real estate signs to gain basic information on the price, square footage, and other basics. Going forward smart phones will be able to download virtual tours and potentially schematics on homes yet to be built.

I would look to fashion as the next major venue to pick up the smart phone as an outlet. The ability to capture style in an image and then have garments found or custom made could drive fashion sales. Look to houses such as Zara and H&M to be quick adopters of this model since their factory is already designed for fast turn around.

The iPhone of 2015 Promises Flexible Screens and Contact Lens Displays

November 03 2008 / by John Heylin / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Gadgets   Year: 2015   Rating: 5 Hot

Leaked photos of the next generation Mac Mini suggest that Apple is committed to steadily shrinking components and appears to be on the road to something that may look a lot like this vision of the iPhone 2015 that we published last November:

 

Sometimes it’s hard for people to get an accurate sense of what the future holds for certain technologies. For instance, could the average person three years ago have imagined that something like the 3G iPhone could exist now?

It is for this reason I present this vision of the iPhone circa 2015.

Contact Lens Display

The most interesting feature of the iPhone 2015 is its first generation Contact Lens Display System. If there’s one thing that iPhone users believe themselves to be, and that Apple stresses all the time, it’s that people who use Apple products are independent and unique. It is for this reason that an eyeglass display was thrown out. No iPhone user would be caught dead wearing the same glasses as over ten million other iPhone users. The fact is, glasses are cumbersome. They gather dirt, get lost easily, and make sports rather difficult.

In 2007, development of a contact lens display system began at the University of Washington, Seattle. “Engineers at the University of Washington have for the first time used manufacturing techniques at microscopic scales to combine a flexible, biologically safe contact lens with an imprinted electronic circuit and lights.” In the time between now and 2015, the cost involved in the production of a contact lens display will likely reduce in price, meaning the loss of one won’t reduce you to tears in case of loss.

The problems associated with contact lenses (protein build-up, 8-hour wear limit, annoyance of constant inserting and removal) will be lessened with oxygen-permeable lenses. O2OPTIX, a company currently specializing in such breathable lenses, already sells a lens capable of week-long wear without removal. “O2OPTIX is made with a revolutionary silicone hydrogel technology allowing up to 5 times more oxygen through the lens than the leading traditional 2-week lens, to help protect from the signs and symptoms of corneal oxygen deficiency.” It only makes sense that seven years from now a lens will be developed which can last even longer making wearable contact lenses less of a pain.

Of course there always is the option of implanting the lens permanently into the eye, but who would ever go under invasive surgery for first generation technology?

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DNA Can Double As Fiber Optic Cables, Self Assemble Themselves

November 14 2008 / by John Heylin / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Technology   Year: 2009   Rating: 5 Hot

Bo Albinsson at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden, has figured out a way to use DNA as a nano fiber optic cable. They accomplish this by combining DNA strands with a chromophore called YO which has a strong attraction to DNA molecules. By wedging itself into areas of DNA, a 3nm diameter fiber optic cable is born (these fibers are self-assembling).

Fiber optic cables have become more commonplace in the world and are expected to take an even bigger step into the solar energy business by improving photo voltaic cells. Optical computers could also benefit greatly from photon-specific nanowires.

via New Scientist

Image: Diego Cantalapiedra (Flickr,CC-Attribution)

Beta’s Eyes

November 23 2008 / by Adam Cutsinger
Category: Technology   Year: Beyond   Rating: 5 Hot

At some point in the not-so-distant future, somewhere on planet Earth…

Beta Bogdanovsky’s Italian Cācio-model translator spoke with a decidedly male monotone, and had the vocabulary, albeit in 13 languages, of a 3rd grader. Her dog’s translator was nearly as well spoken. Then again, Tóse was a smart dog, an Illyrian sheepdog whose eyes expressed more care than those of most people, and he almost certainly had the capacity to communicate on levels beyond the short sentences programmed into his collar.

“Iz vee NEH tuh,” she said in Bulgarian to a rotund bearded man blocking access to the window seat next to him. A roundish silver and gold box hung from a beaded chain around her neck, and a small bas-relief profile of the Roman god Mercury spoke the Greek, “Syghnomi.”

Excuse me.

The man’s posture shifted to make way even before he looked up, and when he did lift his head he was eye to eye with Tóse. Expressionlessly he made a symbolic attempt to scoot his plastic bags out of the aisle, and Beta sided into the seat, setting her gear on the floor between her feet. Tóse sat on his haunches in front of them both. Beta wondered why it was that people could not seem to rein it in in crowded public places and on trains.

As the ARMA Speed Tram pulled away from the passenger bay, the lights in the tramcar faded slightly as they always did between stations, and Beta closed her eyes and relaxed her neck, as she always did when she was commuting. Bitoli was five stops from the sea, as the tram tunneled through the Korab and Pindus Mountains, and then there were six more on the other side of the water before reaching Monopoli. This trip would be an opportunity to shut her eyes for approximately 2 hours, which was a very good thing, because Beta’s eyes were very tired.

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Next-Gen Video Games Offer New Value to All

July 31 2008 / by jcchan / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Metaverse   Year: 2009   Rating: 4

Coming soon to your living room: a wild safari in the scorching African savanna starring you, armed with nothing but your camera. Afrika is the next step in a generation of video games that seek to become more than just entertainment and can actually make you smarter.

Afrika, the latest game by Rhino Studios, is set to be released in Japan on the PS3 in late August. You play it from the perspective of a nature photographer and naturalist armed with a Nikon stalking realistic wildlife in painstakingly recreated savannas. The photos you snap are saved like a lexicon, or Africa-pedia, where you can read up all about the real facts of the animal. The PS3’s multi-cored cell processor is being utilized to is fullest potential to recreate the complex AI and behavior of the animals in mirror world fashion, and it’s is just one of many in the increasing trend of video games that are as educational as they are made to be entertaining.

Because the game is not about rifles or grenades, it is perfect for younger children who can learn about Africa’s wildlife in a fully immersive 3D world rather than a bread-and-butter textbook. And what a field trip it is without all the expenses and dangers of being there.

But using video games to teach isn’t a new idea. An all-girls junior high school in Japan have already been using Nintendo DS’s to teach English. The verdict? The students feel right at home with the new devices. Katie Salen, a game designer and director of the graduate Design and Technology program at Parsons School of Design, is leading the way in using video games as a foundation for education for an accelerating world. Her goal is to open a school based on gaming literacy.

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[Video] 60 Minutes Clean Coal Program Misses Chance to Introduce Bio-based Carbon Solutions

April 29 2009 / by Garry Golden / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Energy   Year: General   Rating: 3 Hot

60 Minutes recently aired a program on the future of coal power featuring Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers (an advocate of longer term 'Cathedral Thinking' carbon reduction) and leading climate scientist James Hansen (an advocate of a moratorium on building coal plants). 

The CBS report was solidly mainstream in framing coal as central to the conversation on energy, environment and global economic development- but it failed to move the conversation beyond ideas that have existed for several decades.

Time for Big Ideas, not Big Battles
Coal is the world's fastest growing source of energy due largely to growth outside the United States.  And despite all the rapid growth rates expected with wind and solar, coal is likely to gain global market share in the years ahead.

So this is not just a conversation about US policy and US-based utilities! And there is no way to just 'wish' coal away.  We must develop low cost carbon solutions that can be applied around the world within existing power plants.  And everyone agrees - these low cost solutions do not exist today!

CBS Producers missed an opportunity to introduce more advanced non-geoengineering strategies to carbon neutralization and left viewers stuck at ringside watching the same old 'pro' vs 'anti' battle.

Carbon's Molecular Dance between Oxygen and Hydrogen
Carbon is a 'sticky' molecule that interchangeably binds with oxygen and hydrogen based on its journey through biochemical pathways or via human induced energy conversion (e.g. power plants and combustion engine).   

Human beings have a choice to approach carbon solutions through geo-engineering (shoving it underground), or as bio-engineers who can bind carbon with hydrogen for use as a hydrocarbon fuel (for transportation or onsite electricity generation) or a bio-feestock for industrial applications.   CBS viewers would have been better off understanding the long-term view of carbon rather than watch a debate without a viable solution.  (Continue Reading Below).

Seeing Carbon through a Lens of Biology

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Kids Get Hydrogen Powered Remote Controlled Car, Adults Still Waiting

November 04 2008 / by John Heylin / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Gadgets   Year: 2008   Rating: 2

Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies has a spiffy new remote control car that runs on hydrogen. It uses solar power to convert water into hydrogen which the user then empties into the car. Platinum plates then compress the hydrogen to get the needed electricity from it. While the car can only run for about four minutes, it’s a step toward making our toys and gadgets that much more energy efficient.

Horizon itself is a very interesting company. They started out with the intention of being specialists in everything hydrogen and pretty much did just that. they offer a wide variety of products from small hydrogen fuel cells to portable ones for camping trips. The one that caught my attention was their development of a hydro-bike (video below) with puts a small fuel cell on a bicycle in order to power it. I want.

via Nerd Grind

Hydrogen Fuel Cells — What's Good For Your Car is Good For Your Phone

November 12 2008 / by John Heylin / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Energy   Year: 2012   Rating: 2

Although there has been much discussion about developing a hydrogen fuel cell for vehicles, a crazy company called MyFC has decided what’s good for the car is great for the cellphone. They went ahead and developed a flexible hydrogen fuel cell only 3mm thick which can fit snugly under your battery cover (pictured above). This means you could potentially power your devices with good clean energy (and who knows how long the charge could last, maybe days).

When can you expect to see this?

Although CrunchGear reports that the fuel cell is “amazingly close to production,” actual support and implementation of such a device could be years away. Here’s why:

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Fuel Cells for Cleaner Coal? Key Milestone Achieved in Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Energy Systems

March 30 2009 / by Garry Golden / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Energy   Year: General   Rating: 2

future of energy fuel cell

Coal is the world's fastest growing source of energy, and at the center of the debate over advancing our efforts to reduce CO2 emissions even as we attempt to meet the demands of a global doubling of energy consumption in the decades ahead.  

'Clean' vs 'Cleaner'
While one side of the debate spectrum ridicules the concept of 'Clean Coal', the other side is pushing forward down the road to 'Cleaner' ways to convert coal energy into electricity that goes far beyond today's 'coal fire' combustion power plants.

Via a process known as 'gasification' we can remove much of the carbon from coal to create a cleaner hydrogen-rich synthetic gas (syngas). Industrial scale fuel cells can then convert this syngas chemical energy into electricity. The challenge is scaling up fuel cells to meet the challenge!

Key Milestone for SOFCs
The U.S. Department of Energy's Solid State Energy Conversion Alliance (SECA) has high hopes for fuel cell based energy conversion and has just announced a key 5,000 hour operation and performance milestone based on two stacks developed by FuelCell Energy (FCE) in partnership with Versa Power Systems.

The milestone marks a key step towards non-combustion based conversion using 'low-cost Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFC) technology for coal-based power plants and other power generation applications' using carbon heavy feedstocks such as syngas, natural gas and biofuels.

Integrated gasification fuel cell plants are expected 'to achieve an overall operating efficiency of greater than 50 percent—15 percentage points higher than today’s average U.S.-based coal-fired power plant—while separating at least 90 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions for capture and environmentally secure storage.'

The US Department of Energy hoopes to have a a 250-kilowatt to 1-megawatt fuel cell module demonstration by 2012; a 5-megawatt proof-of-concept fuel cell system to demonstrate system integration, heat recovery turbines, and power electronics by 2015; and then a full-scale demonstration of a 250- to 500-megawatt integrated gasification fuel cell power plant by 2020.

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Researchers Design Nanoscale Fuel Cell Catalyst Using Less Platinum

May 15 2009 / by Garry Golden / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Energy   Year: General   Rating: 2 Hot

nanostructured catalyst Washington U

The nanoscale design of basic energy components is once again revealing new solutions to the historical problems of high cost alternative energy systems.

Materials scientists from Washington University in St. Louis  and Brookhaven National Laboratory have designed a nanostructured bimetallic (platinum and palladium) fuel cell catalyst that is 'efficient, robust and two-to-five times more effective than existing commercial catalysts.' 

Fuel cells are important as 21st century 'power plants' that produce electricity on demand without a grid connection. Fuel cells can be designed as small as a AA battery (for portable gadgets), a breadbox (for electric vehicles), a small refrigerator (for home power) or the size of a small room (for utility power generation). 

Commercialization of fuel cells depends on our ability to lower the costs of core membranes (MEAs) that convert chemical energy into electricity. 

So what is the way forward?  Nanostructured design of key membrane components.

Nanoscale Revolution:
Rethinking Surface Area & Shape

Team leader Professor Younan Xia explains the importance of the breakthrough:  "There are two ways to make a more effective catalyst," Xia says. "One is to control the size, making it smaller, which gives the catalyst a higher specific surface area on a mass basis. Another is to change the arrangement of atoms on the surface. We did both. You can have a square or hexagonal arrangement for the surface atoms. We chose the hexagonal lattice because people have found that it's twice as good as the square one for the oxygen reduction reaction (which determines the electrical current generated)."

To reduce costs and improve performance the team experimented with new core and branching structures. The catalyst has a core made of palladium which branching arms (‘dendrites’) of platinum that are seven nano-meters long.  

According to Xia's team release: ‘At room temperature operation the team’s catalyst was two-and-a-half times more effective per platinum mass for this process than the state of the art commercial platinum catalyst and five times more active than the other popular commercial catalyst.  At 60 degrees C (the typical operation temperature of a fuel cell), the performance almost meets the targets set by the U.S. Department of Energy.’

The next step for the team? 

Integrating gold as a third metal catalyst to deal with the problem of carbon molecules that reduces performance by binding and blocking valuable surface area.

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Get a Mobile Fuel-Cell Charger For All of Your Gadget Charging Needs

December 11 2008 / by John Heylin / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Gadgets   Year: 2010   Rating: 1

mobionrf.jpg

MTI MicroFuel Cells, a division of MTI, has a prototype portable fuel cell battery which it hopes to release by the end of 2009.  "This compact and light weight fuel cell charger comes with a removable cartridge that can be swapped for a new one when depleted. Each additional cartridge gives consumers another 25 Watt-hours of power."  25 Watt-hours of power translates to 10 cellphone charges or 100 hours of video on a portable video player like the iPhone. 

The device itself runs on 100% methanol fuel which isn't surprising since you can buy methanol for .47 cents a gallon.  The Mobion chip used in the device has a new design architecture that "embodies a reduction in the size, complexity, and cost of fuel cell construction."  With fuel cells currently available at astronomical prices, it will be interesting to see how much they've cut the cost off their product.

Full MTI press release here.