I may be a bit of a fuddy-duddy, but I'm not the kind of fuddy-duddy who rips at my clothing and smears ashes on my face over the horrors of new technology. Quite the contrary. While I do admittedly hang onto some of my old ways
out of a determination not to cede any of my hard-earned abilities to some new-fangled gadget, (like a calculator... HA!) I'm also excited by amazing technological advances.
Tell ya what, let's kick some technology around, just for fun. Along with some of the newer stuff, I'm gonna include a handful of excerpts from past posts, as well. First, we'll start with something that first appeared in a July, 2011, post. I believe I referred to the technology back then as...
*** New York designer Andrew Schneider created quite a buzz when he came up with a way for women to charge their gadgets with... their boobs. Sorta. Called the iKini, his design, currently available from Solar Coterie for about two hundred dollars, is a bikini covered in photovoltaic strips, (i.e. solar panels) terminated in a USB connector capable of providing 5 volts. And yes, it IS possible to swim in it, ladies, provided you remember to unplug your gadgets first. And oh yeah, better not try to reconnect until you're completely dry. Men, never fear. Another version is in the works just for you. The solar shorts, to be dubbed iDrink, will feature a higher voltage output capable of powering a peltier junction, which will connect to a custom coozy, so you can keep your beer cold while charging your iPod. (Too bad Mr. Schneider didn't figure out how to harness methane in his design, too. Some men could power a small TV ...)
And then, in February of 2012, I mentioned another innovation:
*** These guys from the Netherlands may be brilliant computer gurus, but their sense of fashion leaves something to be desired. Erik de Nijs and Tim Smit recently unveiled their new creation, which they've dubbed Beauty and the Geek
. It's a pair of jeans ... with a built-in full-size Bluetooth enabled keyboard. (Talk about a lap
top!) Integrated speakers and a wireless mouse are included with the pants, and the invention works with a USB device and wireless connection. The idea is to allow users to walk around, but still be in control of their computer. Okay. Um, what I'd like to know is ... how do you wash
But NOW??? Holy moley, wearable technology
has grown by leaps and bounds.
*** NOW... we have eyeglasses for hooking up to the Internet, and smart watches that can do just about everything but cook dinner. Then again, I'll betcha those smarty-pants watches can
make reservations at your favorite restaurant, or make a list of things to buy at the grocery store... and even tell ya where the stuff you need is on sale for the best price. (Not sure if they can actually tell you what time
it is.... but heck! your smart phone can to that, right?) NOW there's all kinds of smart clothing
that can monitor body functions and movements. The science of wearable technology may be in its infancy, but it's growing bigger every day. The smaller and more powerful processors become, the easier it is to incorporate their capabilities into something that's not only portable... but wearable. Last month, Georgia Tech held a two-day symposium to highlight some of the wearable tech work that's being done by students and faculty there. Things like the haptic gloves, designed by PhD student James Hallam, which enable stroke victims to more quickly recover the use of a weakened hand, essentially teaching
it by by utilizing feedback from their strong hand. Things like the Smart Ballet Shoes and Ballet Hero, both designed by Emily Keen as a valuable tool to teach the fine art of ballet dancing. In addition to the many projects and prototypes demonstrated at the symposium, industry representatives were in attendance, too, to see how they might capitalize on some of these innovative ideas. [If you're curious about how some of this kinda stuff has already been implemented, check this page
, created by Canadian Tom Emirch. Thanks to his efforts, Canada is one of the leaders in wearable technology.]
Gee, do you think technological advances might improve the workplace? Not so much, according to this piece from a post I did in February of 2012...
*** I've heard of efforts to eliminate waste in the workplace before, but this is downright ridiculous. Picture this: flashing lights, a blaring alarm, and the loud admonition, "Time's up, you slacker! Get yer can off that can!" Okay, so that isn't exactly what's happening, but employees at a call center in Norway are being monitored by a high-tech surveillance system that triggers an alarm if they spend more than eight minutes of the workday in the bathroom. That's right. Evidently, flashing lights alert supervisors to the time-wasting loo loiterers,
needless to say, the employees' union is protesting the crappy policy, and have high hopes this new intrusion into poo-break privacy will go the way of other failed means to control their potty habits. Last year, one Norwegian firm actually made female employees wear a red bracelet during their "time of the month" to justify more frequent trips to the bathroom. (Think they considered brown bracelets for employees with the runs, or green ones for tummy upsets and pregnancies?) Another company made employees sign a lavatory visitor's book,
and still another issued electronic bathroom key cards. And here, I always considered Norway to be a bastion of freedom and individual rights. Turns out some of their companies have forgotten about man's inalienable right to sit on the throne. Hmmmph! I'm betting their bathrooms don't even have magazine racks.
*** I guess you've all heard about the 65-year-old German woman who recently gave birth to quadruplets. In case you aren't familiar with the story, the soon-to-be-retired teacher already has thirteen children, ranging in age from 9 to 44, but it seems her nine-year-old daughter wanted a younger sibling.
So, uh... why not? I guess she figured, since technology could make it possible for someone her age to get pregnant, she might as well go for it. And go
for it she did... all the way to the Ukraine, where donated eggs were fertilized and implanted into her post-menopausal body. Multiple times. (If at first you don't succeed... ?) The tiny premature quads were recently delivered by C-section, and last I heard, are in critical condition. So what do you think? German doctors had advised her against it, saying it was much too dangerous for both her and any potential baby. Was it selfish for her to proceed? Was it an ethical choice? Or was it a matter of her body, her decision, so it's none of our business? (What I really
want to know is how much money does Germany pay its teachers??? Holy moley...)
|NASA photo by John Hop [wikipedia]|
*** The spacecraft Messenger
was the first to orbit another planet... Mercury... and this photo was taken in 2011 on its first fly-by of that planet. Over the past four years, it has circled Mercury more than 4000 times, and took more than 277,000 photos of it. (Geez, that's even more than we took of our first son...) Last month, as planned, it ended its mission with a crash landing.
As planned. Isn't it amazing that scientists can direct, monitor, communicate... and even land, whether soft or crash... space probes from such incredible distances, and with such phenomenal accuracy? Boggles the mind. (Too bad our newspaper delivery person can't do as well.)
*** Isn't that a cool-looking model of DNA? The advances made since its discovery are also nothing short of mind-boggling. Like the stuff of science fiction... and not just for the purposes of answering those annoying talk show hosts' question: Who's your baby's daddy?
Yeah, DNA testing can determine paternity, but it can also ascertain the presence or likelihood of developing a particular disease, and all kinds of other amazing state-of-the-art things.
Then again, it can also be used for more, uh, mundane things, as described in this old clip from a July, 2011, post...
*** It's terribly annoying when a neighbor repeatedly allows his pooch to use your yard as as its own personal potty, isn't it? It's annoying to a New Hampshire apartment complex owner, too. The plentiful piles of poo were ruining the aesthetics of her lovely complex, doggone it, so she decided to do something about it. Residents have until today to submit pet (ahem) samples, so she can use them to set up a doggie DNA file. That's right. From now on, when an unpleasant mound of manure is found, she's gonna test the dog doo DNA to reveal the inconsiderate culprit. She doesn't yet know what she's gonna do once the doo is identified. Perhaps a fine, she says. (How about lighting a paper bag of "evidence" outside the offender's door?)
A recent article in the newspaper reminded me of that earlier post, because DNA-testing dog poop seems to be a more popular pastime than ever. According to the article, twenty-six apartment and condo complexes in the Seattle area alone have recently obtained DNA test kits from a company in Tennessee called BioPet Vet Lab. And guess what? A quick Google search revealed there are plenty more companies offering this same service. Who'd a thunk it? While some people fume over the stinking heaps of poo dumped in their yards, others are raking in heaps of money because of it. What a country.
|photo from US Navy [wikipedia]|
*** A couple years ago, I did a post about Military Working Dogs. It's amazing what they can do. They're even trained to jump out of airplanes! (YES... more than once...) Now let's talk about dolphins and sea lions. Did you know they're trained by the Navy to do stuff like detect land mines? Yes, we already have advanced sonar and listening technology, but dolphins and sea lions, with their keen eyesight and biological sonar, have proven to be experts at detecting mines, swimmers, and mini-submarines, so they can be invaluable in thwarting possible terrorist attacks. Currently, the Navy has 90 dolphins and 50 sea lions, which are being trained in San Diego. Many of these critters have already made multiple deployments to trouble spots in the world. Today, they work alongside Unmanned Underwater Vehicles, and some day, the UUVs may be advanced enough to do the job on their own, but for now? Their innate abilities, coupled with extensive training, make dolphins and sea lions an integral part of national defense. Sometimes, technology can be trumped by good old-fashioned biology.
*** Okay, technically, this last piece doesn't have anything to do with technology at all; I just thought it was... funny.
Ready? Chinese officials are launching a campaign to crack down on strip shows... at, um... funerals...
Yeah, at funerals. Seems like an odd combination to me, too.
But not to the Chinese, especially to those who live in rural areas. See, to their way of thinking, having a good crowd at a funeral is a way of honoring the deceased, and what better way to bring in a crowd than to provide entertainment? At one time, operas were performed at funerals, and later on, movies were shown. Offering erotic strip teases and lewd shows is the more popular method to attract a crowd these days, though. Some fad. Somehow, I don't think I'd feel all that honored if a bunch of strange men were drooling over some hot chick at my funeral... but that could just be me. After all, I am
a bit of a fuddy-duddy.
Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.
In the Bowling Alley of Tomorrow, there will even be machines that wear rental shoes and throw the ball for you. Your sole function will be to drink beer.