What’s Next – issue 36

The new issue of my What’s Next trends magazine has just gone live. Find it right here.

Also, below, is a sneak peek of the new brainmail.

Have you heard of auxetic substances? Thought not. These are really new and really interesting materials that get thicker, rather than thinner, when stretched. Not only does physical form change when subject to external force, the material stores energy very quickly too. What could you possibly do with such materials? How about blast resistant curtains or dental floss that gets into the tricky bits?
Ref: Economist Technology Quarterly (UK)


Ever fancied a computer the size of a snowflake? Scientists around the world are working on tiny computers with skeleton operating systems that can report on conditions nearby. Powered by sunlight, vibrations or temperature change such dot-sized devices could monitor buildings or be injected into a tumour to monitor growth. Most useful of all, perhaps, people could embed motes into everything they owned in the physical world and then be able to conduct searches from them in virtual worlds. “Where are my keys?”
Ref: New Scientist (UK)


Is your boyfriend or girlfriend becoming more trouble than they’re worth? Or perhaps you’re not in a relationship, but the social (media) pressure to be coupled is just too much. Well a solution (some say) is at hand. For $24.99 a month, a Minnesota-based app allows you to have a relationship with a virtual boyfriend/girlfriend who not only texts you back, but will engage with you in conversation.
Ref: Daily Mail (UK)


A study by Ilsedore Cleeves at the University of Michigan says that half the water on earth is older than the sun, having been carried here as interstellar ice. The study also claims that water is far more common than we previously thought out in deep space.
Ref: New Scientist (UK)


You’ve no doubt heard of Tom’s shoes and perhaps One Water. How about Who Gives a Crap (sorry, but that’s what it’s called). 2.5 billion people (roughly 40% of the world’s people) don’t have regular access to a clean toilet, which means that diarrhea related diseases kill 2,000 children under 5 every day. Three enterprising Aussies have come up with a way to help. Order their toilet paper online, it gets delivered to your door and 50% of profits go to Wateraid to build clean toilets in the developing world.
Ref: Grapevine (Aus)


It seems that some people feel better inside if they spend time outside. Ecominds is a scheme run by the mental health charity Mind in the UK. Projects use nature, especially woodland activities, to help people with mental health problems improve their confidence and self-esteem. http://www.mind.org.uk/ecominds


If you’re a scientist drowning in digital data then Sciencescape might be for you. The site is essentially a “twitter-like experience” that allows academics to filter science stories using chosen categories. One aim is to allow people to ‘follow’ specific geographical places or even individual buildings.
Ref: The Scientist (US)


Following news that Google has withdrawn the Google Glass prototype from the market comes news that the Google X shunk works is developing smart contact lenses that can analyse a user’s tears to detect medical problems.
Ref: International Business Times (UK)


It’s not been widely reported but Google has been buying roughly one company per week since 2010. Not surprisingly, many of the companies and technologies are involved in search, or autonomous devices that one way or another finds out more about people, although a great many are in robotics and artificial intelligence.
Ref: Business Insider/CBC News

THE NUMBERS
Danes that drink regular Sprite are 10% less likely to support the welfare system than Danes that drink Sprite Zero.
Ref: Harper’s (US)

In 1975, the cost of the fastest supercomputer was $5,000,000.
You can currently buy a used iPhone 4, which is roughly equal in performance (mflops), for $80 on eBay.
Ref: McKinsey/Brainmail

The cost of factory automation relative to human labour has fallen by half since 1990.
Der Spiegel (Germany)

In the UK two-thirds of 11-year-olds in the UK have a television in their bedroom.
Ref: The Times (UK)

The average automobile now contains 60 microprocessors.
MIT Tech Review (US)

6% of people living in New York that own a smartphone admit to having used it to make an online purchase during a funeral.
Ref: Harper’s (US)

There are now more Christians in China than members of the Communist Party.
Ref: Financial Times magazine (UK)

Worldwide, three times as many people die of obesity than die of starvation
Ref: Daily Telegraph (UK)

Since 2007, the number of prisoners in solitary confinement in the New York area has risen by 63%.
Ref: Harper’s (US)

It took 76 years for 50% of US homes to acquire a landline telephone. With cell-phones it took just 7.
Ref: PWC (UK)

QUOTE OF THE MONTH
“True love is a lack of desire to check one’s smartphone in another’s presence.” – Alain de Botton

BOOK OF THE MONTH
From Counterculture to Cyberculture by Fred Turner (2006)

WORD DETECTIVE
Nomcore (noun) describes people that wear unfashionable clothing as a fashion statement.
Ref: Daily Telegraph (UK)

WEB SIGHT OF THE MONTH: The Way back machine
What the web used to look like back in the day
http://archive.org/web/

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